It was back to the business of bike racing for a stacked UCI Women’s peloton at Tour of the Gila Wednesday after a two-year pandemic hiatus, and a familiar face topped the Stage 1 podium: Krista Doebel-Hickok (Team EF Education TIBCO-SVB).
The former national hill-climb champion and fourth overall at 2019’s Tour of the Gila rode away with two kilometers to go from Emily Marcolini (3T/Q+M Cycling Team) from Canada and Austin Killips (Amy D Foundation) for the win at the top of a brutal climb to Mogollon.
“We knew we had a lot of strong girls, and we truly believe we are the strongest team here and any one of us can win this race, and we didn’t care who, but we all knew this finish was for me,” Doebel-Hickok said. “I literally passed Sara [Poidevin], and said, ‘are you empty?’ and she said, ‘yeah,’ and I said, ‘OK.’ Then I knew I had to go and not look back even though I looked back a lot.”
Doebel-Hickok, like many in the women’s field of 53 riders returned after the two gap years when Tour of the Gila — one of the only remaining international professional cycling races in the U.S. — had to cancel for safety reasons. Now, riders from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Switzerland, New Zealand, Finland, Belgium and Austria came together for one of the first times on U.S. soil.
Attacks began at one kilometer before the first intermediate sprint when DNA Pro Cycling Team strung out the field to set up their dynamic sprinter Maggie Coles-Lyster from Canada. Team EF Education TIBCO-SVB was also gunning for sprint points with Poidevin from Canada taking second. Maria Valadez Ortiz (Amy D Foundation) from Mexico getting third.