Glen Chadwick of Team Type 1 survived the toughest day of the Vuelta Mexico on Wednesday to hold onto the overall lead with three stages remaining.
The 93-mile (150 km) race included three categorized climbs, which shattered the 140-strong field and saw only 35 riders together at the finish in Morelia. Jose Benites (Scott-American Beef) won the sprint over Ivan Fanelli (Cinelli-OPD) and Ignazio Sarabia (Extremadura).
But the bigger story was the teamwork by Team Type 1 to get Chadwick to the finish unscathed, despite the loss of Matt Wilson to illness.
"The boys were under attack immediately and although Matt started, we knew we didn't have him today and there would be a good chance he would not finish," Team Type 1 Sport Director Ed Beamon said.
Over the first climb, a four-man break slipped off the front, but Team Type 1 kept the gap within five minutes with Moises Aldape, Chris Jones and Valeriy Kobzarenko riding tempo. Three more riders bridged to the leaders on the second climb, but Chadwick's lead remained safe.
"The guys kept the pressure on for the 25 kilometers of rolling into the final climb and then the Scott-American Beef guys came up to help," Beamon said.
The torrid pace ripped apart what was left of the field and hauled back all but one of the seven leaders. The main field – now reduced to about three dozen – regrouped on the fast descent and Chadwick had survived another day in the yellow jersey. The New Zealand Olympian has held the race lead since the second day of the eight-stage, 749-mile (1,206 km) race.
Though not highlighted in the results, Beamon said the hard work put in by Team Type 1's Fabio Calabria – the only rider with Type 1 diabetes in the race – has not gone unnoticed.
"At the end of the stage, Glen, Ian and Moises were in the front group and Fabio was in the next group with Jones and Kobzarenko behind," Beamon said. "(At the finish) Ian said, ‘How about that Fabio, he's a warrior?' and Chady said, ‘That guy needs to get a bonus . . . he was incredible today. Bringing us bottles all day, then he gets a flat and comes back to the front, and then he's drilling it on the descent before the final climb. What a hard guy!'"
Wednesday's finish in Morelia was the site of two grenade attacks on Monday that ripped through the crowded center of the colonial town during a national holiday. Beamon said the city is now under heavy security.
"Military helicopters and federal troops with shouldered M-16s are cruising on the back of trucks and jeeps," he said. "The irony is that this is the most beautiful city we have been in so far."