Jake Keough wins fourth stage
SALT LAKE CITY -- Jake Keough found himself in a familiar situation Friday when he crashed in the fourth stage of the Tour of Utah.
"I've gotten used to crashing this year," Keough said. "I've had a bad run of it. I was actually kind of bummed out because my teammates were all right in the front. I knew I had to get up and still give it a go. I couldn't let these guys down."
Keough did more than that, catching up and breaking free in a late sprint to win the stage, while fellow American Christian Vande Velde retained the overall lead.
Keough finished the 134.3-mile stage in 4 hours, 47 minutes, 6 seconds. Italy's Marco Benfatto was second, and U.S. rider Tyler Farrar finished third.
Vande Velde had a 3-second lead over Thomas Danielson. David Zabriskie was third, also 3 seconds behind.
A group of six riders broke from the peloton just seven miles into stage. The group featured Yann Huguet, Craig Lewis, Jasper Stuyven, Peter Velits, Jeremy Vennell and Thomas Leezer. They led by as much as 10 minutes before the peloton finally gave chase over the final few miles. The peloton didn't catch the six riders until inside the final mile, setting up for an exciting sprint to the finish.
"We almost did it," Stuyven said. "The stage was 800 meters too long."
Keough's United Healthcare team committed to chasing down the six riders in the break early. The job was made difficult by a tailwind much of the afternoon. It made it tough to chase down the six riders and catch them as they closed toward the finish line.
"It was nip and tuck," said Jeff Louder, Keough's teammate. "These guys rode really smart. They were a smart group of riders. That made it that much harder to bring back."
A wildfire outside of Herriman blazed near the stage route. Smoke in the air was enough of a concern for Tour of Utah officials that there was talk of altering the course. In the end, they decided to continue with the original course.
Keough felt unaffected by the air quality entering Salt Lake County.
"You could definitely see the air quality wasn't good," Keough said. "You can't feel it immediately. It doesn't affect the performance, but it is there.
The fifth stage Saturday is a 102-mile leg that begins in Park City and cuts through four counties before finishing at Snowbird Ski Resort just outside Salt Lake City. It will feature mountain climbs totaling 12,139 vertical feet.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press