After launching what some may consider a doomed move on the Mogollon climb, Cooke held his lead until just 30 meters from the finish, when his teammate, Daniel Jaramillo caught and passed him right at the line. Gregory Brenes claimed the third spot to cement the podium's grey and red colors.
Earlier in the race, Connor McCutcheon (Airgas), Max Korus (Astellas), Steve Fisher (Jelly Belly-Maxxis) and Coulton Hartrich (Marc Pro-Strava) attacked about 30 miles in, and made a valiant attempt to keep their lead and at one point gained more than 8 minutes on the field.
While the break was still up the road, a monstrous crash took out almost half of the 150 starters causing absolute chaos among the riders and staff.
Photo: The massive crash that took down over half the field.
Photo credit: Rebecca Reza
5-Hour Energy Team Director Frankie Andreu said it was one of the worst crashes he's seen in a long time. "We had two of three caught up in the crash, Taylor Shelden, Gavin Mannion - chewed up, just definitely chewed up. That was a massive crash," Andreu said. "It was 50 guys. Not only were they all over the road, they were in the ditch and everywhere else. There were only 40 left. It was scary. Very scary."
Current National Road Champion Freddie Rodriguez of Jelly Belly was nursing his wrist though confirmation from his team noted that he had finished despite riding on a broken bike and will start tomorrow. His teammate Kirk Carlsen added, "People were flying everywhere, if I was any further up in the group I wouldn't have been so lucky today. This was the most devastating crash I have ever seen."
Around 13 riders had to be taken to the Gila Regional Medical Center and two were airlifted to a Tucson hospital. Luckily, updates from the teams involved reported their injured riders have avoided serious injuries and will recover.
Despite the madness in the peloton, dedicated teams like UHC still managed to pull back the break at the base of the final climb up to Mogollon, which averages at 19 percent. There, Jamis riders shone and proved they have the depth to defend their leader's jersey going into tomorrow's stage.
UCI Men Results:
Top 3 on Stage 1
Daniel Jaramillo (JSH)
Matt Cooke (JSH)
Gregory Brenes Obando (JSH)
Town of Silver City Leader's Jersey: Daniel Jaramillo (JSH)
PNM Sprinter Leader Jersey: Steve Fisher (JBC)
Freeport-McMoRayn King of the Mountain Jersey: Daniel Jaramillo (JSH)
Southwest Bone & Joint Institute Best Young Rider: Daniel Jaramillo (JSH)