Logan, Utah — In a photo finish, Christopher Lawless was less than a centimeter away from the win Monday on Stage 1 of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. The solid result earned the 21-year-old the Best Young Rider jersey.
The first-year Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team rider was edged out by Ty Magner (Holowesko-Citadel p/b Hincapie Sportswear) at the end of the 211.2-kilometer race that started and finished in Logan, Utah.
Lawless said he was proud to earn a podium on an emotional day for the team as it rode in tribute to Chad Young.
“It was a very special and emotional day for the team and I think we showed that on the road,” he said. “We were using the day to commemorate Chad Young who suddenly passed away at the Tour of Gila. If you looked around, you'd see all the staff wearing Chad Young t-shirts and socks.”
Monday’s opening stage of the Tour of Utah was an out-and-back course that included two categorized climbs and a loop around Bear Lake. As the race reached the first climb, a potentially dangerous 10-man group escaped and earned a maximum gap of 7:45. The second climb took its toll and splintered the break to five riders.
Once the race reached the final two finishing circuits around downtown Logan, all escapees were caught and Axeon fought to take control of the front. Teams jockeyed for position with numerous riders launching flyers, but it came down to a drag race to the line.
After the brutal and sweltering hot day on the bike, Lawless said he simply didn’t have anything else in his legs.
“Hat's off to Ty, it was a good sprint and a really fast one,” he said. “ I wish I could have finished it off with a win but I didn't have the legs in the sprint. It came down to a really, really close margin. I hope it was an exciting race to watch for the fans.”
The Manchester-native said the second place is bittersweet because he felt the team put together the best lead out to date for him and he wishes he could have rewarded them with a win.
“The team rode really well for me today and it’s a shame I couldn’t finish it off for them,” he said. “It was the best team form I've been a part of and at times over the climb, I was definitely off the back and two of my teammates helped me get back on.”