Colombian climber Oscar Sanchez (Canel’s Specialized) took out the first stage of the Tour of the Gila on Wednesday, out-climbing 2015 overall winner Rob Britton (Rally Cycling) on the final ascent to Mogollon and capturing the first leader’s jersey.
Sanchez attacked Britton and UnitedHealthcare’s Gavin Mannion in the closing kilometres of the climb, crossing the line four seconds ahead of the Rally rider. While Mannion faded in the final kilometre, Australian Alex Evans (Mobius Bridgelane) surged to the fore and finished third ahead of Mannion.
“When we came into the climb, roughly with 10k to go, I had two teammates with me,” said Sanchez, who raced at Gila once before in 2015.
“We were left with nine in the group before the climb,” he said. “There were four from UHC, two from Rally, myself, and two others from I don’t know which team. In the final 6km, I left the last teammate I had with me, with two UHC, and one from Rally at that point. With 5k to go, it was down to us three, at 3k it was just myself and Rally and that’s when I attacked and went solo.
“This win is very important because I arrived here with very little racing form. It’s my first race of the season, racing against teams are in better form. For me this win is important for my confidence.”
For Britton, who won the overall here in 2015 while riding for SmartStop, the stage was “as standard as Mogollon gets.”
How it unfolded
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