Redlands Classic winner and NRC race leader Mara Abbott (Wiggle Honda) will headline a composite squad for the Tour of the Gila under the banner of the Amy D Foundation, a charitable organisation created in the memory of American racer Amy Dombroski, who was killed in a training crash in 2013.
“Amy was a good friend of mine and inspired me in my cycling career with the attitude and determination she brought to her racing," Abbot said. "I often wished to emulate Amy in my moments of struggle. Amy was a special person to me, and the work that Dan [Dombroski] and Nicole [Novembre] have done in the name of her legacy is also awe-inspiring.
“To be able to represent the spirit of such a wonderful person and ride for an organization that brings opportunity to others in a genuine way is an incredible honor.”
Abbott heads up the roster, which also includes Americans Kathryn Donovan (Colavita/Bianchi), Amanda Miller (Pepper Palace p/b The Happy Tooth), Julie Emmerman (Rally Sport) and Annie Toth (Groove Subaru-Excel Sports) together with Norwegian Janicke Gunvaldsen (Hitec Products) - six women who would not be racing otherwise, because their teams were not included in the UCI-sanctioned race.
The Amy D. Foundation composite team was formed after an unnamed individual stepped in to rescue the race with private funds. The Tour of the Gila race organization also launched a crowd funding campaign, which raised almost $17,000 in additional funds, some of which will be donated to the Amy D. Foundation.
“An incredible community has helped the Gila continue and is also supporting the Amy D. Foundation and giving opportunities to new riders,” says Dan Dombroski, who began the foundation two years ago in his sister's memory to support young female racers. “That’s an amazing result and shows how the cycling community can help create a robust future for women in the sport.”
The Tour of the Gila holds a special place for Dombroski, he recalled, “A month or two after Amy first decided to start racing her bike, we went to the Tour of the Gila together.
“We went there with one other friend, packed in a small car, and slept in tents. It was the first big race she ever did and her first stage race. So it’s very meaningful that we should start with the Gila.”