Katie Hall opened the Tour of the Gila with a strong second place on the first stage. The race got underway with the classic Silver City to Mogollon road race. The point to point stage started on the rolling terrain around Silver City before ramping up on a final 5.5-mile climb on a very narrow alpine road. The grade approached 19% near the end, and it’s here the field was splintered as the climbers came to the fore.
Hall was well protected by her teammates, including Abby Mickey, who set the tempo at the base of the climb. This left Hall in a great position to move up as the grade steepened. Eventual stage winner Mara Abbott attacked early on the climb, ensuring the rest of the field were chasing hard. With Abby Mickey acting as domestique, Hall was able to conserve energy before the steeper grades at the end of the race, and moved comfortably into second place.
Sporting Director Rachel Heal was happy with the outcome, “Second was a great result, and it’s obvious that Mara is riding well this year. With Abby in 6th and Linda [Villumsen] in 11th, we’re well positioned for the rest of the race. The team is motivated and spirits are good. The girls are keen to race hard for the rest of the weekend.”
With strong tailwinds pushing the field towards the final climb, the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team started the Tour of the Gila strongly with a 3rd place finish for Daniel Jaramillo. After an early break went clear, Daniel Eaton was tasked with the job of bringing the move back. With a huge effort, Eaton rode on the front of the race for almost 100km, ensuring the breakaway was never given a long leash. This selfless teamwork paid off, and the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team delivered Matthew Busche and Jaramillo to the base of the climb in great position.
After an early attack by the Jelly Belly team, Busche worked hard to bring the move back. Jaramillo benefitted from the work of his teammate, and started reeling in the leading duo towards the end of the climb. Jaramillo crossed the line for third place, pulling comfortably clear of the chasers behind.
Team General Manager Mike Tamayo saw the racing from the car, and was pleased with Jaramillo’s form, “It’s great to see Jaramillo climbing like we know he can. It sets the team up well for the rest of the week, and puts us in a good position as we chase stage victories over the weekend. We’ll be racing full gas on stage 2.”
Stage 2’s Inner Loop road race uses the Trail of the Mountain Spirits National Scenic Byway for the majority of the route. The race will start on the grounds of historic Ft. Bayard. Racers will head out toward Silver City, then turn north on through Piños Altos.
With less climbing than the opening day, look for opportunistic attacks early in the race. UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team will be looking to fight for the stage win, and replicate the successes of previous years. The New Mexico based race celebrates its 30th edition this year. The race has become a fixture on the U.S. professional calendar, with it’s long open-road stages being celebrated for their challenging terrain and beautiful backdrop.