Team Rio Grande riders Scott Tietzel and Chris Winn cool down after the time trials Friday. (Photo by Mary Alice Murphy)

Team Rio Grande has been traveling from Colorado to take part in the Tour of the Gila for years, according to team member Scott Tietzel. "This is my seventh year at the Tour of the Gila," he said. "I skipped one year, but I've been coming since 2006."

The team is made up of eight riders and is Fort Collins-based. A large masters club has about 35 racers. The group that is taking part in the Tour of the Gila is "part of the elite team. We're the ones who do the traveling," Tietzel said. "We've been sponsored for 10 years by the Rio Grande restaurant chain in Colorado. The owner is Pat McGaughran. We are the longest-running elite team in Colorado, and one of the longest in the country."

McGaughran is the reason the team exists, Tietzel said. "He has a passion for cycling. He wants to give racers the opportunity to do well. He wants to protect the integrity of the sport by playing by the rules.

"After last year when the doping things came out, he took a few months deciding whether he wanted to be part of the sport," Tietzel said. "He decided it would be better to come back to the sport and elevate it to the level to grow young riders up in a team with a cleaner environment."

Chris Winn, originally from Melbourne, Australia, as can be noted by his accent, now lives in Colorado. "Cycling brought me to Colorado, and I met my wife."  Winn said he had been cycling since "I was a kid."

Tietzel said this was his 18th year of racing, which he has been doing since 1995. He said he started with mountain biking at age 11.

He said the Tour of the Gila is a popular race for people from Colorado, because of the climbing and the altitude, and it's not too far away—a day's drive.

"Our team has been provided housing for the past few years by the same families," Tietzel said.  "They've become like extended family. They've been great to us every year. Tomorrow night, we're having a big team dinner with lasagna and all."

Watch for Team Rio Grande members, with the words on their shorts and the front of their shirts.

Editor's Note: Several are pictured in the slide show from the Tyrone Time Trials on Saturday.

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