Ward sprints to victory in UCI Women’s Tour of the Gila criterium; De Crescenzo and Doebel-Hickok ready to battle on the Gila Monster
SILVER CITY, New Mexico (April 30, 2022) — Maddy Ward (InstaFund Racing) sprinted to glory Saturday after crashes and confusion marred the UCI Women’s Tour of the Gila Silver City Downtown Criterium, but one thing remained constant — the gap between the top two overall leaders.
Lauren De Crescenzo (CINCH Rise) and Krista Doebel-Hickok (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) still only have 14 seconds between them even after both went down in the mayhem.
“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. “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.”
The 27-mile, 25-lap crit stayed mostly tame before attacks began flying to pick up intermediate-sprint, or prime, cash prizes. About five laps into the race De Crescenzo, Doebel-Hickok, DNA Pro Cycling’s sprinter Maggie Coles-Lyster, who was a race favorite, and others hit the pavement.
De Crescenzo and Doebel-Hickok rejoined the race, but Coles-Lyster hit her head and had 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.”
At 18 laps to go, a bonus sprint was up for grabs and Holly Mathews (CINCH Rise) got to the line first, picking up points and a small time bonus, but most importantly, making sure Doebel-Hickok didn’t. Mathews again picked up second-place sprint points and a bonus on the second bonus sprint.
“Kind of crazy day out there in the crit here in downtown Silver City,” Mathews said. “It seemed like it was pretty aggressive most of the day – had some people going for some sprints, mixing it up out there. It was a nice fast last corner into that false flat uphill finish with a nice little tailwind. It was kind of carnage on the road, lots of crashes, fast pace today, so [I] hope everybody’s OK and can heal up for tomorrow.”
Ward, who was down 10 points and in fifth place for the Sprinter jersey, gained one point on the second sprint and picked up 15 points at the finish line for her win, moving her into first place in that competition. She also sits in third place for the overall race lead two minutes and four seconds back.
Other crashes on the back side of the course just before a short rise threw the field into chaos as riders had to take free laps and be reinserted into the race. Diana Peñuela (DNA Pro Cycling), was erroneously inserted into the field at 14 laps to go, race officials said. They said she should have been reinserted off the back of the field with another rider who was a minute and 15 seconds off the back.
Peñuela, who continued to race without realizing what had happened, mixed it up and raced for sprint points, but later was deemed ineligible for those points by race officials and given the time of the rider with whom she would have finished, putting her at 12 minutes and seven seconds back on the overall lead, losing over seven minutes and knocking her down to 12th place.
De Crescenzo and Doebel-Hickok and their teams kept each other in check throughout the race, mostly on the front of the field.
“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,” Doebel-Hickok said. “Yeah, I went down pretty hard, but fortunately nothing is broken, and I’m totally fine to race tomorrow.”
But in the end, Ward made a final push for her team’s sprinter, Rylee McMullen from New Zealand, although Ward ended up getting to the line first, with McMullen taking second and Austin Killips (Amy D Foundation) in third.
The final Stage 5 Gila Monster Road Race presented by SkyWest Media will be decisive for the general classification red leader’s jersey. The 65.9-mile course gains 5,610 feet of climbing and the steepest climb tops out at an elevation of 7,473 feet with three opportunities to gain points in the queen-of-the-mountains competition.
Although De Crescenzo and Doebel-Hickok both have over a two-minute lead on their closest competitors, anything can happen in a bike race. Big names like Ward, Killips, and current Best Young Rider Anet Barrera (DNA Pro Cycling Team) from Mexico are breathing down their necks and have the climbing abilities to make something happen.
Barrera will be looking to hang onto the Best Young Rider Jersey, Ward the Sprinter jersey, and Doebel-Hickok will be looking not only to win the overall leader’s jersey but hang onto Queen of the Mountains.
Stage 4 results:
- Maddy Ward – InstaFund Racing
- Rylee McMullen – InstaFund Racing
- Austin Killips – Amy D Foundation
GC After Stage 4:
- Lauren De Crescenzo – Cinch RISE: 8:21:45
- Krista Doebel-Hickok – EF Education-TIBCO-SVB: 8:21:59
- Maddy Ward – InstaFund Racing: 8:23:49
U25 After Stage 4:
- Anet Barrera – DNA Pro Cycling: 8:26:57
- Kira Payer – DNA Pro Cycling: 8:32:55
- Kyleigh Spearing – Cinch RISE: 8:39:27
QOM After Stage 4:
- Krista Doebel-Hickok – EF Education-TIBCO-SVB: 21 pts
- Lauren De Crescenzo – Cinch RISE: 15 pts
- Emily Marcolini – 13 pts
Sprinter Jersey After Stage 4:
- Maddy Ward – InstaFund Racing: 26 pts
- Lauren De Crescenzo – Cinch RISE: 20 pts
- Rylee McMullen – InstaFund Racing: 18 pts
Team Classification After Stage 4:
- EF Education-TIBCO–SVB: 25:21:02
- DNA Pro Cycling Team: 25:21:25
- InstaFund Racing: 25:41:55
Stites, Project Echelon Racing victorious at UCI Men’s Tour of the Gila criterium; Dal-Cin looking to defend overall lead on Gila Monster
Tyler Stites (Project Echelon Racing) and his team dominated the UCI Men’s Tour of the Gila Silver City Downtown Criterium Saturday, taking a victory and more sprint points and clawing his way closer to the overall race lead.
Stites now has a 14-point lead in the sprint competition and is 34 seconds away from the overall race lead after picking up time bonuses in the crit. His teammates, who time-trialed their way to top spots on Friday, moved to the front of the field in the crit and controlled the pace for nearly the entire race.
“I think we had a good plan today and followed it perfectly and executed that and accomplished it,” Stites said.
The 43.2-mile, 40-lap crit, began with Project Echelon moving onto the front of the field and making sure Stites picked up maximum sprint points and time on the first bonus sprint at 30 laps to go.
But Cyrus Monk (Meiyo CCN Pro Cycling) from Australia had other ideas. He launched a break with two other riders, then ended up flying solo before being joined by Landis/Trek’s Joey Bacala and Jovanni Stefani (Team California/HMS).
“It was never really the plan to try and get out there the whole race, but we knew we were going to be good in a criterium,” Monk said. “We do a lot of crits in Australia, so, we wanted to take it up to them, but we only have a small team with four riders, so we couldn’t control the race like they did, so we had to use our numbers a bit differently. We’ve struggled a bit this week with sickness and with the altitude so, it was good to get some results today.”
Monk gobbled up some primes and first-place sprint points before Stefani drifted off the train and back into the field. With just a few laps to go, Bacala and Monk also were reabsorbed, and Project Echelon Racing was back up at the control panel.
Stites launched and crossed the line first followed by Sam Volkers (Meiyo CCN Pro Cycling) from Australia and Stites’ teammate George Simpson in third.
“Yeah, it was actually the game plan going in all along,” said Stephen Vogel (Project Echelon Racing). We have a team meeting before every stage. We wanted to keep it smooth, easy for Tyler, pick up an intermediate there, and then go for the win.”
Stites, who won Redlands Bicycle Classic the previous week, has been working his way toward the overall lead at Tour of the Gila and hopes to make up 34 seconds and then some on Sunday in an attempt to beat Matteo Dal-Cin (Toronto Hustle), currently in first.
“Tomorrow will be really exciting,” said Isaiah Newkirk, Project Echelon Racing’s team director. “Tomorrow’s just a super tough course, the course kind of makes the race, so in a way, it’s kind of like holding in our cards and applying them to when it actually matters, which is the back half of the course. It’s just a freakin’ grueling race, but I think Tyler can do pretty darn well tomorrow.”
The final Stage 5 Gila Monster Road Race presented by SkyWest Media will be decisive. The 100.6-mile course gains 9,131 feet of climbing and the steepest climb tops out at an elevation of 7,493 feet with three opportunities to gain points in the king-of-the-mountains competition.
GC contenders will battle to the finish, looking to take the top step of the podium. In addition to Stites, Dal-Cin will have to deal with Toby Roed (Yoelo Test Team p/b 4MIND Project), who is one minute and three seconds back in third and will want to take back his red jersey, and Sam Gilletly (Landis/Trek), who is one minute and 28 seconds back. Gilletly would be the underdog story of the year for his Arizona-based team if he were to make it onto the podium or even win.
“Tomorrow I’m sure it’s going to be a little bit less straight forward than today,” Dal-Cin said. “[There will] be a lot more bombs being thrown, but I think that’s all right. Tyler brought back some time today, but tomorrow you can put minutes in, so anything can happen. There’s tons of guys still in the race. It’s definitely not a two-horse race by any means, so it’ll just be a hard day of slugging it out and hopefully the strongest guy comes out on top.”
Stage 4 Results:
- Tyler Stites – Project Echelon Racing
- Samuel Volkers – Meiyo CCN Pro Cycling
- George Simpson – Project Echelon Racing
GC After Stage 4:
- Matteo Dal-Cin – Toronto Hustle: 8:35:37
- Tyler Stites – Project Echelon Racing: 8:36:11
- Toby Roed – Yoeleo Test Team p/b 4MindProject: 8:36:40
U23 After Stage 4:
- Xander White – CS Velo: 8:37:09
- Caleb Classen – Team California/HMS: 8:39:40
- Ethan Overson – Cinch RISE: 8:42:18
Sprinter Jersey After Stage 4:
- Tyler Stites – Project Echelon Racing: 36 pts
- Samuel Volkers – Meiyo CCN Pro Cycling: 22 pts
- Nacho Prado Juarez – Canel’s Zerouno: 20 pts
KOM Standings After Stage 4:
- Heiner Parra Bustamante – Canel’s Zerouno: 20 pts
- Toby Roed – Yoeleo Test Team p/b 4MindProject: 15 pts
- Matteo Dal-Cin – Toronto Hustle: 15 pts
Team Classification After Stage 4:
- Project Echelon Racing: 25:54:27
- CS Velo: 35:54:30
- Toronto Hustle: 26:01:05