UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling sweep final stage podium
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling’s Tayler Wiles sealed overall victory at the Tour of the Gila after claiming second to her teammate Katie Hall on the final stage of the five day race. Hall’s powerful performance on the Gila Monster stage bumped her to second on GC while Leah Thomas (Sho-Air Twenty20) held on to her 3rd place overall.
‘This win means so much to be because of how incredible our team raced,” Wiles said. “Everyone put their whole heart into every stage. We trusted each other and had confidence every step of the way. I’ve always dreamed of winning this race and winning as one team was perfect. I want to thank my coach Neal Henderson and my parents for surprising me by showing up in Silver City to watch the last two stages. It was really special.”
It was UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling’s race to lose before the final stage from Silver City to Pinos Altos. The leader jersey never left the team’s camp, passing from Hall to Wiles on stage 2 and staying on the 27-year-old’s shoulder for the rest of the week.
Despite the Gila Monster road race daunting profile, no team could unseat UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling’s dominance over the 66-mile (106km) march over five QOMs, complete with an unforgiving climb to the finish.
Megan Alderete (Supermint HB) was the first rider to break the elastic on the field. Sofia Arreola (Sho-Air) was quick to join, but the duo didn’t gain much traction and was reabsorbed when Alderete’s teammate Lizzie Williams tried to bridge.
Kaitie Antonneau (Cylance), Nicolle Bruderer (TIBCO) and Beth Ann Norton (Visit Dallas DNA) were the next group to go off the front. The trio gained more than 3 minutes before Norton fell back into the peloton. Wiles and Hall caught and passed the remaining breakaway riders up the final climb and paced each other, gaining almost 2 and a half minutes, while the remaining riders struggled to limit their losses.
Over the line, Hall finished six seconds ahead of Wiles and put a big enough effort in to claim the polka-dot jersey. Winder sprinted to third place, sealing the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling podium sweep and solidifying her lead in the best young rider competition. Jamie Gilgen brought home the green jersey for Rise Racing.
“It was such a team effort,” Winder said. “Our team is so strong that we can take gambles and sometimes they pay off.”