Oliveira, Mickey take second and third place, respectively
SILVER CITY, NM (April 30, 2014) – Mara Abbott (UnitedHealthcare) showed why she's one of the best climbers in the world today when she rode away from Flavia Oliveira (FCS|Zngine p/b Mr. Restore) in the final kilometers of the crushing Mogollon climb.
Chilly and windy conditions met the riders today at the start in Gough Park, but that didn't stop Lauren De Crescenzo (DNA Racing), 2013 World Track Championship double silver medalist Sofia Navarro Arreola (Twenty16) and Anna Grace Christiansen (FCS) from attacking 26 miles into the 73-mile race.
The three worked well together, and gained a maximum of three minutes by taking advantage of the area's hilly and twisty roads on their way to the base of the Cat. 1 finishing climb. But it wasn't to be as the field pulled back the trio with six miles, and a 2,100 ft. climb, left to race.
With the breakaway contained, Sharon Laws (UHC) launched a counter attack on the short, 13 percent precursor to the Mogollon climb, and quickly gained an advantage on Whitewater Mesa Plateau. DNA Racing, TIBCO and Twenty16 rallied to set up their climbers when the gradient steepened, bringing the field together for the final test to the line.
Around 4km to go, Abbott's climbing prowess proved to be too much for everyone except Flavia Oliveira, who clung to Abbott's wheel until 2km left, when the three time Gila winner and two time winner of the Giro Rosa kicked it up a notch, leaving Oliveira to take second place, 55 seconds in arrears.
"There are a lot of places on this climb, because it's a very picky climb and it changes a lot, so there are a lot of different places where you can accelerate, a lot of ways to change your pace," Abbott said after the race. "I didn't ride her off my wheel, but we came apart and I took advantage of that."
Excluding Abbott, UnitedHealthcare has other two riders in the top ten. Sharon Laws and Katie Hall are sitting sixth and seventh respectively, which Abbott said gives the team some flexibility heading into the rest of the week.
"We're in a really great position because we don't have to focus on just me as a leader," Abbott said. "That makes the race more fun for me, and it also makes us stronger because we have a lot of options so I'm pretty excited about the rest of the week."
Twenty16's Abby Mickey crossed the line in third, an impressive result for the 23-year-old college student.
"We wanted to go into the climb fresh, and all of us hit it as hard as we could and see what happened," Mickey said. "Once we hit the bottom it was game time."
Mickey will wear the Young Rider Jersey heading into tomorrow's Inner Loop Road Race. Her teammate, Alison Tetrick is leading the sprint competition and Oliveira will start tomorrow in the Queen of the Mountains jersey.