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Tour of the Gila Final Report and Photos – Canada’s Britton Takes Men’s Overall Victory

by pedalmag.com
Men's GC podium (l-r) Diez 2nd, Britton 1st, Mannion 3rd  ©  Mitchell Clinton
May 04, 2015 (Silver City, NM) – The Tour of the Gila’s infamous final stage, the “Gila Monster,” shook up Rafael Montiel’s (Orgullo Antiqueno) four day stranglehold on the race leader’s jersey. Montiel’s teammates covered attacks and breakaways throughout the stage which lead team management to feel confident in their jersey defense.

But with 25 kilometers remaining, Montiel was off of the lead pack which included Chris Horner (Airgas), Michael Woods (Optum presented by Kelly Benefits Strategies) and eventual overall race winner, Rob Britton (Team SmartStop).

Canada's Woods wins Stage 5  ©  Casey B. Gibson
“The team rode perfectly all week and my only job today was to not mess it up,” said Britton. “The goal was always to win the Gila and better our third place from last year.”

Britton left the 2014 Tour of the Gila just four seconds from the win and his offseason diligence and passion for the Gila came to fruition today.

SmartStop Director Michael Creed and Rob Britton celebrate his victory  ©  Team SmartStop
SmartStop Director Michael Creed was confident in Britton’s condition during the rider’s build up to the Tour of the Gila.

“I knew Rob was really motivated and he looked good and smooth,” said Creed. “To say you’re going to win and pull it off is always hard. This is one of the races that we didn’t win last year so it’s nice to keep improving.”

The stage winner, Michael Woods, brought the men’s Optum presented by Kelly Benefits Strategies Team stage win tally to three after an Inner Loop Road Race win with Eric Young and Dan Potts Individual Time Trial win with Tom Zirbel.

Abbott on the podium  ©  Mitchell Clinton
Like on stage one’s Mogollon mountain top finish, the table was set again on Sunday for Mara Abbott (USA) Amy D Foundation to showcase her virtuosic climbing abilities. Her win capped an impressive start-to-finish overall lead and in the process, earned her a record-setting fifth Tour of the Gila women’s stage race win.

Jasmin Glaesser on the podium  ©  Casey B. Gibson
Abbott’s 37 -second and three-minute advantage, respectively, over second and third place today came not to G.C. hopeful Lauren Stephens (Team Tibco-SVB) or Jasmin Glaesser (Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies) but to two opportunists in the form of Katie Hall (United Healthcare Pro Cycling) and Breanne Nalder (DNA Cycling presented by K4).

Abbott leading Hall, Glaesser and others...  ©  Mitchell Clinton
Hall who finished second today to Abbott also leapt up the final general classification into second place. Nalder, was lost for words in her post-stage interview: “I feel out of this world. I’m toast. It was a long, hard day, but worth it.“

Canada’s Glaesser ended up 4th overall securing the Best Young Rider’s Jersey as well. “Jasmin is maturing as a road racer, and GC rider – I think she showed this week that she will be able to win these races in the future,” commented Optum’s Performance Director Patrick McCarty.

As Abbott prepares for later season objectives and rejoining her United Kingdom-based Wiggle Honda Team, she was complimentary of her “composite” teammates, riding for the Amy D. Foundation.

Women's GC podium (l-r) Hall 2nd, Abbott 1st, Glaesser 3rd  ©  Mitchell Clinton
“The girls had really amazing breakthroughs at this race,” said Abbott. “I was really proud to ride with them and really proud to ride with the jersey.”

On the Gila Monster climb, Abbott was comfortable but justifiably fatigued from the previous four stages.

“It wasn’t as hard as some of the other climbs that happened earlier in the race but after five days’ racing, it was fairly epic,” she said.

Full results here.


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