Anthony wins wild Stage 1 at Tour of Utah
Updated: August 10, 2011, 20:33
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OGDEN, Utah (AP) Jesse Anthony made up for what he called a stupid early attack by winning a five-way sprint to the finish Wednesday in the first stage of the Tour of Utah.
Prologue winner Sergio Henao of Colombia retained the yellow jersey by finishing a close second in the 113.6-mile stage that climbed three times over north Ogden pass in the Wasatch Mountains.
"I can't believe it. Oh, my god,'' said an emotional Anthony, who called the stage victory the biggest of his career.
Besides being shocked, he felt fortunate to survive a ride that lasted more than 4 hours, 43 minutes.
"I took off with a lap and a half to go thinking it was the dumbest suicide move,'' Anthony said.
Though he got to the top of the last climb first, he quickly was passed by two sets of teammates: Henao and Oscar Sevilla of Gobernacion de Antioquia, and Team Radioshack members Levi Leipheimer and Janez Brajkovic.
"They came blasting by me on the descent,'' Anthony said. "I jumped on the back and was thinking, `Oh, boy, it's going to be a long one.' "
But he kept pace then outsprinted the other four the final 200 yards.
Spaniard Sevilla was third just ahead of defending Tour of Utah champion Leipheimer, an American, and Brajkovic of Slovenia.
Though four days of racing remain, Leipheimer believes only four realistically can win the overall title.
"Theoretically, it's a race of four guys, no offense to Jesse,'' Leipheimer said.
Anthony is fourth overall, 18 seconds behind Henao, but has less experience as a continental rider.
"I don't think anyone expected today was going to blow open the race the way it did,'' Leipheimer said.
But 91-degree heat and 8,250 feet of vertical climbing up to an elevation of 6,500 feet made things twice as difficult.
"When you put them together, it really separates everybody,'' said Leipheimer, who lost valuable time on the second lap when he had to switch out bikes because of a chain problem.
The gap between the next group of riders was more than 2 1/2 minutes. That included Tour of Utah 2009 champion Francisco Mancebo (6th), Tejay Van Garderen (7th), 9th-place Tour de France finisher Thomas Danielson (8th) and his Garmin-Cervelo teammate Christian Vandevelde (9th).
Salt Lake City's Jeff Louder, a pre-race favorite, was 18th nearly 3 minutes behind the leader.
Salt Lake City native David Zabriskie, who is racing just a month after crashing out of the Tour de France with a wrist and knee injury, is 56th - 5:20 back.
The six-day, 409-mile Tour of Utah - upgraded to one of the top three sanctioned stage races in North America - now heads south of Salt Lake City for a 99.2-mile sprint between Levi and Provo.
Henao remains confident despite having never raced in the U.S. before.
"It feels really good to be up there with Oscar,'' Henao said. "There's a lot of stages left to go, but as long as we can keep Levi under control I feel really good.''
Tyler Wren of Jamis-Sutter Home claimed the best Utah rider, but is 2:52 back.
"The mindset for tomorrow is be attentive,'' Wren said. "The dangerous part tomorrow might be the crosswinds.''
The race wraps up Sunday with a mountaintop finish up Little Cottonwood Canyon at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort.