• All or nothing... Lachlan Norris (L) takes out the final stage of the Tour of Utah. (Drapac)Source: Drapac
On the final stage of the Tour of Utah, Lachlan Norris played his cards perfectly to earn Drapac Professional Cycling its first win in the United States.
Cycling Central

10 Aug 2015 - 12:23 PM  UPDATED 10 Aug 2015 - 4:33 PM

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Norris, known for his strong climbing and time trial skills, showcased both uphill strength and downhill prowess on a steep and winding descent into Park City. The 28-year-old from Kalgoorlie entered the final 500 metres on the wheel of fellow escapee Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing), and as Bookwalter accelerated, Norris came around on his right to take victory in front of a fan-packed Park City.

"I was pretty excited. It's a big win for me and huge for the team as well," an exuberant Norris said of the biggest victory of his seven-year career. "I knew the descent pretty well. I actually said to the mechanic this morning to let 10 psi out (of the tyres) and I'll give it a red-hot crack on the descent, so I had that as a plan."

Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Garmin), after winning the queen stage to Snowbird the day previous, wrapped up overall honours, finishing 50 seconds in front of Stage 5 winner Michael Woods (Optum Pro Cycling) and 1'05 ahead of Bookwalter.

"Lachlan took a risk going into those final kilometres. He said this morning he had to put it all on the line and it would either work or go down in a blaze." - Drapac sport director Agostino Giramondo

"It was a great week for us as a team. I'll definitely remember yesterday's stage, winning the stage and taking yellow," said the 24-year-old Dombrowski, who finished fourth overall at the 2012 Tour of Utah while riding for the Trek-Livestrong team. "It was really a great team effort today. They did a super job controlling the race going into the final climb, and then put me in the right spot, and from there, it was just follow everybody," 

The day started with Drapac's Samuel Spokes jumping into an early 12-man escape. The break worked well over the first climb, as Spokes surged to take the first KOM. On the descent, Tanner Putt (UnitedHealthcare) and Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) opened up a gap. "We caught Taylor at the bottom of the climb and Tanner was still up the road, but I knew the chase was coming, so I settled in and waited to save my legs a bit, in case Lachlan needed anything," Spokes said. "He said 'all good' when he came up to me, and he was charging."

Putt was caught on the hors catégorie climb of Empire Pass by a select seven-man group. "I knew I had to stay at the front of the group as we hit the descent," recalled Norris.

"Five hundred metres from the top, I surged and it brought me back to the front of the group. As we hit the top, I wanted the lead as I knew it was critical to have the lead heading down. I pushed and only Brent (Bookwalter) came. He attacked me on the small climb halfway down. I stayed back and wound it up as he attacked in the finish."

Norris's stage win moved him to sixth on GC, 1'12 behind Dombrowski, also finishing as the best-placed Australian. "I am excited for everyone on the team. We had numerous top-10 placings this week and guys in the break almost every day. Our morale is high heading into next week for Colorado and I am just so excited," he said.

"Lachlan took a risk going into those final kilometres. He said this morning he had to put it all on the line and it would either work or go down in a blaze," Drapac sport director Agostino Giramondo said. "Lachlan has really developed the last few years and to his credit he has done everything to put this together, from moving over to the States for the season, to nutrition to training. He put it all in today and it's a well-earned win.

Drapac Professional Cycling heads next to Colorado for USA Pro Challenge, starting August 17. "We got that first win in the US, and we have been striving for it for some time. We have been so close and today the team came together and succeeded. We look forward to the next races on our program," Jonathan Breekveldt, the team's general manager, said.