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Tour of the Gila stage 1 — a relieved Rory Sutherland

May 3, 2012

[updated May 8, 2012]

Rory Sutherland, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, won the 6.7 mile uphill finish to the ghost town of Mogollon on Wednesday after a 92 mile day over the rolling Gila Wilderness high desert roads outside of Silver City, New Mexico. It’s a win he needed to bolster his aspirations for a great performance in the upcoming Amgen Tour of California.

The fourth break-away attempt succeeded with Paul Mach of Kenda/5 Hour Energy p/b Geargrinder and Adam Carr of the Canadian team – GASPESIEN.

Paul Mach rode off the front with break-mate Adam Carr, with a maximum lead of about 4 min 35 seconds until 30K from the finish (photo by Mary Topping)

One man decided to strike out on his own after the two-man break got underway. Colin Gibson, who rides for the Hagens Berman team, intended to pick up sprint points. He earned one point in the first sprint on the stage before dropping back to the shelter of the peloton.

Colin Gibson left the pack and rode in between it and the 2-man break early in the race (photo by Mary Topping)

Riders spent the day in the open. The race’s notorious winds kicked up occasionally but didn’t split the field before the last climb.

Competitors like Matt Cooke on Team Exergy and Taylor Shelden of Competitive Cyclist — who will no doubt pull at the front of the peloton throughout the race to support his team leader Francisco Mancebo, explained that what makes the Mogollon difficult is the transition onto the climb after “not really racing all day.”

Main field on stage one, close to the start of the Mogollon climb (photo by Mary Topping)

The real action took place as expected on the road up to Mogollon where the field split due to mesa crosswinds and the work of the UnitedHealthcare team.

Mogollon climb: Rory Sutherland, Chris Baldwin, Sebastian Salas, Chad Beyer, Marc de Maar, Tyler Wren (photo by Mary Topping)

The riders crossed the finish line clearly at their limits. A salty-faced Shelden described his Mogollon experience; working for Mancebo, he could only say what happened half-way up the first section of the climb: “After we made the right turn, Mike Olheiser was on the front and took it to where it kicked up. I did most of the climb [to the plateau] and after that we were gone.”

Cooke participated in the lead group until the plateau. Both he and Ben Day of UnitedHealthcare mentioned the crosswinds always blow on the flatter section before the final climb. “You can either hang on or you can’t,” Cooke said. “The crosswind was just too strong. I got blown off. After that I recovered and I kept riding hard. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t very good either.”

Joe Dombrowski (Bontrager-Livestrong) after crossing the line for second on stage 1 (photo by Mary Topping)

Here’s a story I wrote for The Roar about Sutherland’s win and his aspirations for the Amgen Tour of California.

Stage 1 pro riders’ results

Stage 1 men results Tour of the Gila

Stage 1 women results Tour of the Gila

From → Road Racing

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