During stage one of the Tour of the Gila on Wednesday, Rally Cycling’s Rob Britton and Sara Poidevin charged up the finishing climb in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest to claim second place. Kyle Murphy crossed the line in fifth while Poidevin took the lead in the Best Young Rider competition.
Starting in Silver City, the stage journeyed north, towards the day’s 5 km finishing climb where gradients reached nearly 20%. The riders were not only battling their competition but the dry desert air at 7,000 ft in altitude. After today’s performance, both Britton and Poidevin are in prime position to challenge for this year’s overall title.
Today’s stage two is suited for the sprinters and the team will look after last year’s stage winner, Eric Young. Friday’s 26 km stage three time trial is where Britton and Poidevin will look to make up precious seconds in the general classification, while 2017’s overall champion Evan Huffman will fight for top stage honors. Emma White hopes to repeat her stage win from a year previous during the downtown Silver City criterium on Saturday and stage five has the riders tackling the grueling Gila Monster road race.
“I’m really happy with both how the team executed the plan today and also how I was able to finish it off. I don’t think I could’ve asked for much more. A close second on the stage and a big gap to third. I feel confident going into the time trial and chasing the general classification.
“The breakaway went really early and we had Brad Huff control things for most of the stage. The team took responsibility right from the start, which was our plan, and the guys were perfect all day.
“Adam de Vos punched it across the plateau between climbs and when we hit the steep section with 5 km to go, I punched out. When I looked back with 3 km to go, there was only 3 of us left.”
“I’m pleased with how I rode today. It’s my first bigger race of the season and we’ll see how the body responds later in the week.
“It was a super quiet race all day today until the last 10 km. The team rode position and Heidi Franz made a good attack to split the field as we started to climb. The group split more in the crosswinds heading into the final climb and then I just followed UHC up the climb until there was only Katie and Edwige left in the last three km.
“We had some bad luck with Kirsti getting pushed into the ditch by another rider at the base of the climb. It forced her to chase back on and that cost her a bit I think.”
Men’s Stage 1 Results
1 Oscar Sanchez Guarin (Col) 3:42:41
2 Robert Britton (Can) 0:00:07
3 Alexander Evans (Aus) 0:00:58
4 Gavin Mannion (USA) 0:01:11
5 Kyle Murphy (USA) 0:01:26
Women’s Stage 1 Results
1 Katharine Hall (USA) 3:39:36
2 Sara Poidevin (Can) 0:00:08
3 Edwige Pitel (Fra) 0:00:12
4 Marcela Elizabeth Prieto (Mex) 0:01:25
5 Leah Thomas (USA) 0:01:35