Why was Weber County excluded from the 2018 Tour of Utah?

Thursday , February 01, 2018 - 5:00 AM

OGDEN — With its scenic mountains and unique routes, Weber County has long been a favorite destination for Tour of Utah cyclists and fans alike.

But when the annual professional cycling race announced dates and host venues for the 2018 tour, the county was conspicuously absent. 

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That means there will be no grueling climb and exhilarating descent of the North Ogden Divide. No jaunt through the Upper Ogden Valley and around Pineview Reservoir. No 6-mile incline, mountaintop finish at the Snowbasin Resort. And no ride through downtown Ogden — a city that markets itself as a cycling mecca. 

That’s the bad news. The good news? Officials say the absence won’t last long.

The 2018 tour is set for Aug. 6-12. 

On Aug. 9, Stage 3 will begin at Antelope Island State Park and end in Layton. Tour of Utah spokesman Frank Zang said the route for Stage 3 (and all other stages) will be announced in April.

Last year, the event’s second stage went from Brigham City to Snowbasin, with riders traveling through Sardine Canyon and Brigham City before weaving through Perry, Willard, Pleasant View and North Ogden, wrapping up at the Huntsville ski resort. 

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In previous years, race stages have been held in the heart of downtown Ogden.

Zang said much like the tradition of professional cycling races around the world, the Tour of Utah route changes on an annual basis.

“That’s true whether it’s the Tour de France or the Tour of Utah,” he said.

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Weber County and the greater Ogden area have been part of the race so often, Zang said, organizers decided to temporarily break from the region. He said the break likely won’t be long. 

“Traditionally, Ogden, Weber County — it’s been a favorite among cyclists and fans,” he said. “It’s been an important part of the tour and that will continue into the future. But Utah is a beautiful state from top to bottom, and we’re trying to showcase all of it.”

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As an example, Zang said Park City (another fan favorite) was not a part of last year’s race but will be involved in 2018.

Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell said the tour has provided a nice, short-term economic boost for the city in years past. The mayor said the hiatus did not come as a shock and he, too, expects both Ogden and Weber County to host stages in upcoming years.

Cycling, as part of a broader outdoor recreation focus, has been an important part of Caldwell’s economic development vision. The city has recruited several national and international cycling companies to Ogden and the mayor has traveled to places like Taiwan to convince bicycle manufacturers of the benefits of moving facilities to Ogden.

Zang said the tour commissioned a study during the 2014 race that found it had a $20 million direct economic impact for Utah.

You can reach reporter Mitch Shaw at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23 or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/MitchShaw.StandardExaminer.

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