Emily Marcolini (3T/Q+M) was victorious on the challenging stage 5 finale of the Tour of the Gila, proving strongest on the final climb of the Gila Monster stage as she came over the line ahead of Austin Killips (Amy D Foundation).
It was Lauren De Crescenzo (Cinch Rise) who took third place and sealed the overall victory at the Tour of the Gila, stretching out her overall lead to Krista Doebel-Hickok (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB), who came over the line fourth in Piños Altos.
"It means so much to me winning the Gila. Six years ago I couldn’t imagine this. I was at the rehab center learning how to walk and talk again," said De Crescenzo who was seriously injured in a crash during a race in 2016. "If someone would tell me, ‘don’t worry Lauren because in 6 years you’re going to win the Gila’ I would have been like, ‘You’re crazy, I’m not a climber!”
Tour of the Gila concluded on Sunday with stage 5's decisive 105km race from Silver City to the summit of the 11km climb to Piños Altos. The route included 5,610 feet of climbing with two bonus sprints and three categorised mountains.
Rylee McMullen (InstaFund) won the first intermediate sprint as while the field was intact in the first 17km, separations opened up as the roads turned upward.
Doebel-Hickok secured the points at the top of the first ascent, at the 26km mark, but while it appeared a breakaway might emerged, a reduced field of about 30 riders were back together along the valley roads toward Lake Roberts.
Helena Gilbert-Snyder (Live Play Real Estate) cleared the field with a 25-second gap along the valley roads. She pushed her lead out to three minutes, but she was 35 minutes down on the overall classification and no threat to the GC contenders.
EF Education-TIBCO-SVB and Cinch Cycling led the pace from the reduced field behind.
In her solo breakaway, Gilbert-Snyder met the second intermediate sprint at Camp Thunderbird, 57km into the race, and took the full points, while behind overall race leader De Crescenzo and runner-up Doebel-Hickok took the second and third.
Doebel-Hickok's EF Education-TIBCO-SVB team set the pace at the front of the reduced field and brought Gilbert-Snyder's gap down to 1:30 heading into the second mountain ascent that located atop Wild Horse Mesa at the 86km mark.
A group of four emerged on the climb that included Marcela Prieto (PratoBike), Emily Marcolini (3T/Q+M), Doebel-Hickok, and Austin Killips (Amy D Foundation), while race leader De Crescenzo struggled to hang on and was distanced by about eight seconds.
The turn right toward Piños Altos for the finale ascent to the summit and the finish line and the select group caught Gilbert-Snyder. Then Marcolini decided it was time to make a move.
"I went and then Austin [Killips] came across to me," said the stage winner. "We decided to just drill it and see what happens."
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