THE GILA RACE REPORT
By, EMMA GRANT
Tour of the Gila is notoriously tough; 5 days of racing at altitude with stage profiles that send you on the hunt for more coffee!
Stage 1: Silver City to Mogollon Road Race
We knew this stage had a perfect finish for Katie, our motive was to ensure she conserved as much as possible for the summit finish. Lauretta took the first sprint points and Jess was represented in the breakaway. Fortunately we all dodged a nasty mid-race pile up. Lauretta and Whitney set a hard tempo to string it out putting Katie in the best position to mix it up with the best climbers finishing a solid 5th. Mara Abbott took the win.
Stage 2: The Inner Loop Road Race
This race was one of attrition from the start, with sprint and QOM points up for grabs early on. A few tactical errors were made and we missed the break of the day. After a long day in the saddle I sprinted to 10th but we knew we could have raced better. Valuable lessons were learned. The winning break shook up the GC setting up for 3 more exciting days of racing.
Stage 3: Individual TT
13km out 13km back, sounds simple. The art of pacing at altitude into the wind however, not so simple. Jess rode to an impressive 12th on the day. For some, this stage was an opportunity to freshen up the legs for 2 more days of hard efforts to come. Kristen Armstrong lived up to the pre-race expectation and took the win but Mara Abbott held onto the GC lead.
Stage 4: Downtown Silver City Criterium
We all welcomed the afternoon start and mandatory crit day coffee spin. Whilst the 4 corner course looked straightforward on paper it was gnarly with a kicker, fast descent and road furniture. Stop start intensity presents different sensations at altitude and as per usual, positioning was key. Lauretta was savvy and powered to 5th. On parallel with that result was Katie conjuring up all her fast twitch fibers (in her drops) to take the prime!!
Stage 5: Gila Monster Road Race
Another epic day in the saddle, but essentially day 2 in reverse. Instead of tearing down the switch back descent we got to grind up it! We all committed to racing aggressively and carried that out. Strong side winds along the valley made for some guttering and the race never let up. I made a rookie error of trying to bridge to a break up the road with an entire packet of Clif margarita shots in my mouth, wouldn’t recommend it when oxygen is already scarce! We kept Katie protected until the base of the climb and she had another strong ride. Congratulations to Mara Abbot for accomplishing a 5th Gila win!