By Eddie Clark
Mancebo and Abbott climb to victory at Mogollon
(April 27, 2011) SILVER CITY, NM—In its 25th year of running, the Tour of the Gila presented by SRAM got off to another fantastic start with pleasant weather and a $66,000 cash purse for racers to contest. Starting in Silver City, the peloton rolled through town with a 2.1 mile neutral start before the racing and attacks began in earnest for the 94.1 mile road race stage.
Once out of town, the Pro Men began racing and attacking on the hilly windswept course through the high desert of the Gila National Forest. “The first 100k was insane, I haven’t raced like that in ages”, said Danny Summerhill (U25 Chipotle Development Team) regarding the number and voracity of attacks from different teams. Certain to mix things up and be factor in the race, the Chipotle team was ever present at the front covering attacks for their protected riders Alexander Howes and Lachlan Morton whom respectively finished fourth and eighth. Additionally, Summerhill snatched up enough points in the intermediate sprints to claim the green sprinters jersey for his efforts.
As the men approached the third feed zone just before the infamous Mogollon climb which features grades approaching 19 percent and nearly 1500 feet of climbing, Teams RealCyclists, Kenda / 5 Hour Energy and Jamis Sutter Home went to the front to lift the pace and set the stage for their leaders to do battle. With a much diminished field, Francisco Mancebo (RealCyclists) put the screws to his competitors with 1k to go and rode to the win by a margin of 14 seconds over wily Tyler Wren (Jamis Sutter Home). Third place went to the young upcoming climbing sensation Josep Dombrowski (U23 Trek-LIVESTRONG) who was racing as a Cat 4 just last year.
Other notable top ten finishers were Georgre Bennett (Trek-LIVESTRONG) at 5th, Chris Baldwin (Bissel) at 6th , and Ben Day (Kenda/5-Hour Energy) at 7th whom are all within 50 seconds of Mancebo. The U-23 Trek-LIVESTRONG team took top honors in the team GC competition.
Once again, the Pro Women’s race was won by Mara Abbott whom returned from her European spring campaign for the Diadora-Pasta Zara Team. “My new team this year was absolutely perfect. There was a Colavita rider up the road for a while, but my team took such good care of me I didn’t have to worry too much. They started putting the pace down from the beginning of the climb, and you just have to wait for the right moment to go. This climb is getting to be my friend”, recalled Abbott. Pactimo racer F Oliviera finished second at 19 seconds back, and her teammate Canadian veteran Clara Hughes rounded out the top three with third place at 50 seconds back.
Stay tuned for Stage 2 and another hilly day of racing.