Maddy Ward (InstaFund Racing) sprinted to victory in a crash-marred stage 4 criterium held along the downtown streets of Silver City coming over the line ahead of InstaFund Racing teammate Rylee McMullen and Austin Killips (Amy D Foundation) in the bunch sprint.
“I crossed the line in first, and I think that was as big of a shock to me as it was to other people,” Ward said in a media release. “My team protected me all day long, and I hid from the wind and I felt comfortable and confident the whole race. My teammates were there for me every step of the way.”
Lauren De Crescenzo (CINCH Rise) continues to lead the overall classification into the finale on Sunday with a 14-second lead over runner-up Krista Doebel-Hickok (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB), both were involved in a mid-race crash, while Ward is in third place overall at 2:04 behind.
“So we knew that there would be crashes in this race, and we knew that it would be fast and hard, and a lot of time gaps, so our goal was to stay safe and not get a time gap,” runner-up Doebel-Hickok said. “Yeah, I went down pretty hard, but fortunately nothing is broken, and I’m totally fine to race tomorrow.”
The downtown Silver City criterium offered the women's peloton a 25-lap race for a total of 43km. There were three bonus sprints, with time and sprint points offered to the first three riders to cross the line, along with time bonuses and points offered at the finish line.
The crash happened just five laps into the race and included De Crescenzo and Doebel-Hickok, along with DNA Pro Cycling’s sprinter Maggie Coles-Lyster. De Crescenzo and Doebel-Hickok got back into the race, however, Coles-Lyster was forced to abandon.
“Today was our day,” Coles-Lyster said. “We have been racing crits all last year. I was really excited about this, but unfortunately there was a crash, not too long into the race, maybe on Lap 5, and a rider hit something in the road and ended up on her top tube and crashing, and it was just unavoidable for me. I hit her as well, I went down, my body’s mostly OK, but I hit my head, and so I pulled myself from the race, mostly as precautionary.”
In addition, Diana Penuela (DNA Pro Cycling) crashed twice during the race and was inserted back into the field at what officials later deemed to be the wrong place and she finished seven minutes down on the stage, dropping from 6th to 10th place overall.
Holly Mathews (CINCH Rise) assisted her teammate and overall race leader De Crescenzo by sprinting for the time bonuses during the race, to keep them away from runner-up Doebel-Hickok.
In the end, it was Ward who stormed down the finishing straight to take the stage 4 victory, collect the time bonuses and enough points to move into the lead of the sprint classification, with McMullen finishing second and Killips third.
Tour of the Gila concludes on Sunday with stage 5, a decisive 105km race from Silver City to the summit of the 11km climb to Piños Altos.
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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.
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