The fields detonated on the final climb to the finish line of stage 1 of the 27th annual Silver City’s Tour of the Gila powered by SRAM when ace climber Janier Acevedo of Team Jamis-Hagens Berman and two-time Gila champion Mara Abbott of Exergy TWENTY16 soared to victory.
Though he had never raced at the Tour of the Gila, Acevedo waited after the Whitewater Mesa, with two kilometers to go to make his move, as he explained through a translator. “There was not much strategy because I didn’t know the climb. I just waited until I started to feel good to attack.” With gradients hitting 19 percent pitches, Colombia Acevedo was in his element. “I feel more powerful on these short and steep climbs.”
Behind him, the field already reduced simply shattered as the steepness and high altitude took its toll on the main field reduced to 15 riders. It became every man for himself.
Chris Baldwin (BISSELL) who crossed the line 12 seconds later for second place stated, “It was an amazing ride that he did. I felt very good, just bided my time, waited until I knew it’s hard there where it kicks back up, and then it wasn’t really a matter of anything other than putting your head down and going hard.”
Lucas Euser (UnitedHealthcare) finished third.
Sunny skies and warm temperatures greeted the racers this morning in Gough Park, Silver City for the start of New Mexico Premier Road Race. A four-rider break quickly emerged from the field which was happy to let them go for the next 60 miles. Jason McCartney (BISSELL), Christopher Williams (Team Novo Nordisk) and Landis/Trek teammates Paul Thomas and Jared Gilyard increased their gap up to 13 minutes before being reeled in one by one by the final climb.
With his win, Acevedo also took the lead in the Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold King of the Mountain classification. By claiming the two intermediate sprint points after a long day in the break, Williams claims the green Grant County sprint jersey. On the strength of his ninth place finish, Gavin Mannion (Bontrager) now wears the white Champion Best Young Rider jersey.
Abbott’s solo climb on the very difficult Mogollon Rd. sealed an easy win for ExergyTWENTY16 on Stage 1 of the Silver City’s Tour of the Gila Powered by SRAM.
“There is basically two pitches on Mogollon,” Abbott said as she described her climb. “There is a first steep pitch and then you go over the cattle crossings and then there is a second pitch. We were in a group together through the flat section. When we got to the second pitch of the climb my team mate Kristin (McGrath) was up front. Claudia (Haeusler) pulled off to come around and I was able to get around her. From that point on I was alone. Kristin did a really good job getting herself in the right position for me.”
McGrath tried to position herself throughout the race. She tried to break from the main field several times, as did Brianna Walle and Jade Wilcoxson (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies), Robin Farina and Olivia Dillon (NOW and Novartis for MS), and Rushlee Buchanan (Team TIBCO). The field did not allow any breaks throughout most of the race. As the riders came up to the Mogollon Road climb, the field had narrowed to 15 riders.
Abbott’s team mate McGrath finished in second. Kathryn Donovan (NOW and Novartis for MS) came in third.
With her win, Abbott also took the lead in the Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Queen of the Mountain classification. Brianna Walle (Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies) claims the green Grant County Sprint jersey. On the strength of her 14th place finish, Rushlee Buchanan (Team TIBCO) now wears the white Champion Best Young Rider jersey.
Racing continues on Thursday May 2 with stage 2, the Inner Loop Road Race which starts and ends in Fort Bayard.