By Eddie Clark
(May 6, 2012) SILVER CITY, NM.—The 26th annual Tour of the Gila stage race comes to a close with the running of the queen stage which sent the pro men out for 170km. The most difficult day of racing featured two bonus sprints and 5 KOM's for 2,803 meters of climbing (9,360 ft).
Before the peloton reached the first KOM at 15 miles into the race, a large breakaway formed, and proceeded to establish a 5 minute gap over the field nearing the races half-way point. It wasn't until the breakaway passed the turn-around at the cliff dwellings and started the climb up Anderson Vista that the fireworks started.
After a short lived break by a United Health Care, a Columbia and a Exergy rider just got the break-away stirred up to draw out the days key climbers. Chad Beyer (Competitive Cyclist) and Lawson Cradock(Bontrager-Livestrong) were the first two to drop the breakaway, while further back in the peloton things started to splinter as the GC leader Rory Sutherland (United Health Care) and second placed Joe Dombroski (Bontrager-Livestrong) both rode to protect their GC positions.
On the Sopilla Climb back to the finish, Ian Boswell (Bontrager-Livestrong) succeeded in bridging up to Beyer and Craddock. In the final meters both teamates were able to drop Beyer and ride across the line together with Craddock taking the win. Although, it wasn't a total loss for Beyer as his time pushed him ahead of Dombroski to take second on GC. Sutherland properly utlized his team and combined their performance with another solid ride to take the overall GC win.
The women's race saw Kristin Armstrong flaunting her dominance with an impressive climb up Sopilla to the finish for her fourth stage victory which also gave her more cushion to win the overall GC competition.