It was a long day in the caravan for Stage 1 of the Tour of the Gila. The Women Pro,1,2 race was over a 73.1 mile course with 4,530' of climbing to an uphill finish.
There were a couple of crashes that got my heart rate up because I couldn't hear anything on the Touchstone team radios, but I never got a call up from the race officials. It was fun to be called to the front of the caravan to car feed our riders. Kelly stayed well tucked within the field waiting for the final right hand turn to start the climb. I included the profile of the last 6.7 miles of the course. The front group of around 12 riders attacked on the 13% climb at mile 2. Kelly could not match the acceleration and had to attempt to close the gap on a very windy flat section from mile 2 to mile 4. This section was absolutely brutal with 30 mph crosswinds. Once the serious climb started at mile 4, Kelly was able to get into a nice tempo and began to pass riders in the front group. Kelly said "I just kept getting stronger and stonger....If I had another 1/2 mile or so, I could have caught another 2 riders." At the finish line, She was in some very impressive company. Leah Goldstein won the stage with a 28 sec advantage over Kristin McGrath. Leigh Hobson finished 55 secs off the pace. Kristin Sanders and Andrea Dvorak were 1:31 and 1:49 back. Kelly finished an impressive 6th place, 1:53 back and ahead of Marissa Aslund, Leda Cox, Stacy Marple and Sharon Allpress to round out the top-10.
Kelly's team-mates also did very well. Maria Monica was 17th, Cara Gillis was 33rd and Olivia Dillion at 38th place. The Touchstone Team is in 4th place. This is important because I move from 8th to 4th in the caravan. I will be able to bring you more action from behind the wheel of the Touchstone Team Car!
Ciao from Silver City, NM. Home of the Gila Monster!
PS There is a nice article at Velonews! http://velonews.com/article/75600