Axeon Hagens Berman Wins Two Jerseys in Utah

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By Fitzalan Crowe
01 Aug 17

Snowbasin, Utah — After a blazon move early into Stage 2 of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah for intermediate sprint points, Christopher Lawless earned the Utah Sports Commission Sprint jersey while teammate Neilson Powless finished top 10 on the day, which garnered him the WCF Insurance Best Young Rider jersey.

Before racing began, Axeon honored team press officer Sean Weide, who passed away unexpectedly in late May. Sean’s five daughters made the trip to Utah and joined team riders and staff on stage where everyone wore commemorative shirts and socks to honor Sean and his impact on the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team, beloved friends, and the broader cycling community.

Tuesday’s stage was a semi-loop course that started in Brigham City and ended with a summit finish atop the 6,365ft, Category 2 climb at Snowbasin Resort. Temperatures hovered around 80F (26C) at the start of the 151.1-kilometer stage and only increased. From the gun, Axeon riders raced assertively knowing that several jerseys were on the line.

Following an early categorized climb, Axeon organized and took advantage of the flat section prior into the first intermediate sprint. Led out by his teammates, Lawless earned the maximum points, which secured him the sprint leader’s jersey.

Heading into the final two categorized climbs, Jhonatan Narvaez and Powless positioned themselves towards the front of the peloton and were able to make the front group when the race split. Having two Axeon riders at the front allowed the young squad to go on the offense with Narvaez launching numerous attacks that helped shed some riders.

“Narvaez went pretty early on, and even after we caught him, he ended up going again before the finish,” Powless said. “It was nice having a teammate up the road. I knew that if we caught him that he’s strong and would be able to hang in as well.”

Once the race hit the upper slopes into Snowbasin, Powless put in his own dig into the competition with an attack off the front. The 20-year-old was quickly reeled in but held on to power to an eighth place finish with BMC Racing Team’s Brent Bookwalter taking the win. Narvaez held on for a top 20 finish.

“Heading up North Ogden Divide, Neilson and Jhonatan proved that they had the legs to stay with the front group, which was the goal,” said Axeon Race Director Jeff Louder. “We’re in a good spot going into tomorrow’s time trial and our plan is to stay focused and take it day-by-day over the next five days.”

Photo: Davey Wilson

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