The Tour of the Gila concluded this weekend with its two final stages, the crit on Saturday and the monster, well, Gila Monster stage on Sunday. As expected, the crit didn’t bring any changes to the overall classification.
ValueAct’s Leah Goldstein defended her pink leader’s jersey which she grabbed after the first stage. On the men’s side, the jersey changed hands one last time, with Tecos’ Gregorio Ladino Vega retaking to lead to win the Tour of the Gila.
Unfortunately, more crashes on Sunday involving 20 riders, with Bissell’s Tom Zirbel diagnosed with broken collarbone, ribs and a finger. And sadly, Teco’s Fausto Espanza Munoz was flown by helicopter to a hospital in El Paso. According to Velonews, “witnesses at the scene and a team staffer said Espanza reported no sensations below his waist.” Damn – best wishes to everyone.
Stage 4 – Downtown Silver City Criterium
In the women’s race, an early break managed to stay away from the field, and Tibco’s Rachel Heal jumped away from her breakaway mates to win the stage ahead of Alison Testroete (Aaron’s) and Suz Weldon (Proman). Leah Goldstein, safely surrounded by her teammates in the field, came in 8 seconds later.
Stage 5 – Gila Monster Road Race
On their 105.7-mile point-to-point road race with 9131 feet of climbing and 8252 feet of descending, the men tackled five categorized climbs including the 7-mile long, 1600 foot Copperas Vista climb of the Gila Cliff Dwelling to turn around and come back down on a dangerous descent with steep grade and blind corners.
Sitting in third place on GC going into the final stage, Burke Swindlehurst (Bissell) could not shake second place Ladino, and had to settle for the stage win and second place in the final classification. Anthony Colby (Colavita/Sutter Home) finished 46 seconds behind the duo and protected his overall third place in the GC.
Going into the final stage with a comfortable lead of over two minutes, Goldstein just had to stay with her closest rivals, she survived all attacks and a punishing tempo to safely finish the stage. Leigh Hobson (Cheerwine) won the stage, with ITT winner Felicia Gomez (Aaron’s) and Joanne Kiesanowski (Tibco) rounding off the podium. Goldstein took the overall with Hobson in second and Gomez in third.
Full results here.
At the beginning of the season, the Bissell team stated that the new riders to the team, Swindlehurst, Aaron Olson, would bring depth and provide more options as far as GC. They proved that in Gila. Fourth-place finisher Phil Zajicek (Health Net-Maxxis), diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and unable to start Georgia due to UCI’s delay in providing a TUE, is showing good form. Colavita/Sutter Home’s duo of 29-year old Anthony Colby and 27-year old Tyler Wren seem to be coming into their own and provide GC contenders to NRC stage races, but do they have the team to support them? The Tecos team raced aggressively from start to finish, and hopefully, we’ll get to see them at other North American races this year.
On the women’s side, Goldstein is showing to be a great addition to the ValueAct team. Only time will tell if the team is strong enough to defend in future races against full teams, such as the upcoming UCI-rated Mt Hood Cycling Classic.