Costa Into Second, Daniel Out Of Utah After Crash

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By Sean Weide
03 Aug 16

Payson, Utah – Adrien Costa climbed his way into second overall with a runner-up finish on Stage 3 Wednesday at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah while his Axeon Hagens Bergman teammate Greg Daniel, the U.S. national road champion, broke his right collarbone in a crash.

Costa finished three seconds behind stage winner and new race leader Lachlan Morton (Jelly Belly presented by Maxxis). Costa, Morton and a third rider, Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling), worked together on the second half of the decisive climb of the day, the ascent of Mt. Nebo.

The trio eventually gained nearly a 90-second advantage over a small group of chasers before Morton attacked in the last kilometer of a long downhill run-in to the finish in the town of Payson. It was more than one minute and 20 seconds before another rider crossed the line.

Afterwards, Costa – the youngest rider in the race who is two weeks from his 19th birthday – said he surpassed his own expectations.

"I wasn't expecting to be climbing with these guys," Costa said. "I think that kind of helps though, because you get pretty excited and the suffering kind of eases up a little bit. It was really fun. I might have done a little bit too much work at the beginning, because at the end I suffered a bit. For me, every day, I am learning and hopefully getting stronger. It is amazing to have the opportunity to race at this level."

Earlier this season, Costa turned heads by becoming the first American to win the Tour de Bretagne in the French race's 50-year history. He flashed signs of his strength Wednesday by bridging a 20-second gap in about two kilometers to join Morton – who won the Tour of the Gila this year – and Talansky, who won a WorldTour race, the Critérium du Dauphiné, in 2014.

"Coming in, I knew we had four or five guys who could really ride for GC (general classification)," Costa said. "This is my first race after a pretty good mid-season break, so I wasn't sure personally how I would be going. I was really focused on helping the team. I was feeling really good on the climb. Unfortunately, our two other GC riders lost a little ground on the climb. So I was just focusing on my pace and was able to catch Morton and Talansky."

Costa moved into the lead in both the "king of the mountain" and "best young rider" classifications. In the overall standings, he is seven seconds behind Morton and two seconds ahead of Talansky. The next four riders are between 1:32 and 1:34 back of Morton. Two other Axeon Hagens Berman riders, Neilson Powless and Tao Geoghegan Hart, are ninth and 10th overall, both 4:07 off the lead with four days to go.

"This stage result is huge for the team, but I think we have a good team full of climbers who we can depend on," Costa said. "These guys have the endurance and experience to be in these races."

Axeon Hagens Berman General Manager Axel Merckx said Costa "produced an impressive ride."

"This was beyond my expectations, for sure," Merckx said. "We were not here with him to be the guy for us and there is still a long ways to go. But we are in a good position with him for sure. We also have a couple other guys like Tao and Neilson who are not far away and in contention. So it will be another team performance."

Daniel Out With A Broken Collarbone

The crash that led to Daniel's broken collarbone happened at the base of Mt. Nebo with about 54 kilometers to go in the 192-kilometer race. It also involved teammate Colin Joyce, who was wearing the "best young rider" jersey. Joyce only had scrapes and bruises and was able to finish. Daniel, meanwhile, also initially thought he might be able to keep going.

"We were just fighting for position going into the climb and some guys slammed on their brakes," Daniel said. "A guy right in front of me went down and there was nowhere I could go. It seemed like a relatively straight-forward crash at the time. But when I felt my collarbone, it felt kind of strange. It wasn't painful though, so I tried to ride a bit. But it didn't feel right. I knew there was no point in trying to finish because I would not be able to start the next day."

Daniel was competing in his first race in the United States as the reigning national road champion. After earning the title in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, at the end of May, he won the Tour de Beauce in Canada in June.

"This is definitely hard," the 21-year-old Denver resident said. "I shed some tears in the rescue squad. But everything happens for a reason. When I broke my collarbone last time, I was on my bike two days later. For me, a broken collarbone is almost better than getting sick. The Tour of Alberta might still be on the agenda and hopefully I will still be able to go to the world championships."

Last year at the Tour of Utah, Daniel won the "king of the mountains" title on his way to a 60th-place finish. Entering Wednesday's stage, he was sitting 31st overall and among a group of nearly 70 riders who were 2:23 off the lead.

Merckx said continuing on without Daniel will be hard for everyone on the team.

"It is just bad luck," he said. "Greg being in the national champion jersey in the U.S. and crashing after three stages and breaking his collarbone is too bad for him and a huge loss for us. I am really looking forward to getting him back on the bike. I don't know when, but hopefully at some point."

(Header photo of Costa by Casey B. Gibson,

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