The UnitedHealthcare rider came through a tough opening test, which featured 2.724m of climbing over a 211km slog around Ogden, to cross the line ahead of Liquigas-Cannondale's Damiano Caruso, BMC's Brent Bookwalter and Bontrager-Livestrong's Lawson Craddock.
Sutherland finished several lengths ahead of his nearest rivals after a select group of 40 riders had reeled in a breakaway pack on the final Cat.2 ascent on North Ogden Pass.
“It was a similar finish to last year, but it was a lot shorter coming out of the last corner,” Sutherland said.
“We checked it out yesterday and could see it was about 300 to 350 metres, so you definitely didn't want to be the first one through. If you were third or fourth wheel you could kind of just jump off the other guys.”
Two-times Utah winner Levi Leipheimer (Omega-Pharma Quickstep) finished in the lead group, along with the likes of Christian Vande Velde, Tom Danielson and Chris Horner.
Sprint king Tyler Farrar suffered a crash but was still able to finish the stage.
The race continues with a team time trial at Miller Motorsports Park.
- Brent Bookwalter