Marcela Prieto (Patobike) won the opening women’s stage of the Tour of the Gila’s Mogollon Road Race p/b Grant County. With 300 metres to go on the banks of the decisive Mogollon climb, the Mexican rider pushed ahead of Austin Killips (Amy D Foundation), who finished second, and third-placed Nadia Gontova (Roxo Racing).
With the victory, Prieto took the first leader’s jersey for the five-day UCI 2.2 stage race. She came into the Gila race on form, having finished second overall at Redlands Bicycle Classic.
The showdown on the steep banks of the Mogollon climb began with 10 riders, which dwindled to seven and then the final trio across the final kilometre. Killips was the first among the lead group to make a move, but Prieto countered and took the victory. Ashley Frye (Cynisca Cycling) was fourth with Anet Barrera (DNA Pro Cycling) in fifth.
In keeping with decades of tradition for the US race, the race opened from a start in Silver City to the mountaintop finish at the ghost town of Mogollon, for a total of 71.2 miles (114.3km). The 3.8-mile ascent reached double-digit gradients up to 19% on a narrow, rough road just before the finish, signalled at a cattle grate.
Early on the stage with 18 downhill miles covered, Rylee McMullen (InstaFund) scored the first points of the race, taking the intermediate sprint ahead of Sarah Van Dam (DNA Pro Cycling) and Stephanie Halamek (Amy D Foundation). Another 18 miles later, McMullen remained attentive at the front of the peloton and took the top points for the second intermediate sprint at Buckhorn, ahead of the same duo.
Jazmine Lavergne (Primeau Velo) was the first rider to gain an advantage with an attack after the second sprint, going out solo and taking 25 seconds. She was joined by Lauren Zoerner (Competition Edge Racing), but they were absorbed back into the peloton with 23km to go.
Headed to the final climb with under 15km to go, the peloton remained together, the pace going a little higher with the top teams amassed near the front – Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY 24, Cynisca Cycling, Roxo Racing, Patobike and the Uzbekistan team of Tashkent City.
With the base of the climb approaching, a group of 10 riders began to make separation from the rest of the field – Barrera, Frye, Prieto, Gontova and Maeghan Easler of Roxo Racing, plus Marlies Mejías, Laurel Quinones and Emily Ehrlich of VIrginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 and the Amy D Foundation duo of Caitlin Conyers and Killips.
Conyers, Quinones and…
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