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Rally Cycling Dominates With Overall Victory, Five Stage Wins, King of the Mountains and Team Classification

Rally Cycling dominated the 31st edition of the Tour of the Gila, holding onto the leader’s red jersey from start to finish with Evan Huffman claiming overall victory. Rob Britton joined Huffman on the final jersey podium as winner of the King of the Mountains competition. Along the way, the team won five stages as well as the Team Classification. The men’s team won four stages. Matteo Dal-Cin took an impressive solo victory in stage one; Eric Young took thrilling sprint wins in stages two and four with Evan Huffman dominating the stage three time trial to overtake Dal-Cin for the lead. On the women’s side, Emma White claimed her first UCI victory in the stage four criterium, winning by several bike lengths over the rest of the field. In the final stage, the grueling Gila Monster Road Race, the men’s team put an exclamation point on the week by successfully defending the red jersey and placing five riders in the top ten in the general classification.

“Today went perfectly,” said Huffman. “We put on a massive display of strength as a team, controlling the race from start to finish. There were some significant attacks from general classification rivals, but I just stayed calm and leaned on my teammates to ride them back. We had a numbers advantage coming into the finish with four out of eight in the lead group. We kept the pace high to discourage attacks, and the result is the biggest win of my career!”

Rally Cycling’s dedication and teamwork brought home the Team Classification

Huffman laid the foundation for his overall victory in stage three with a perfectly executed ride. Huffman covered the 26-kilometer course in a remarkable time of 33:07, 25 seconds faster than runner-up TJ Eisenhart (Holowesko-Citadel) and 35 seconds faster than third-place Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly-Maxxis). Huffman’s masterful performance gave the team its third victory in three days and moved him into the overall lead. With the red jersey in hand, the rest of Rally Cycling was called on to defend Huffman’s lead in the final two stages.

The team kept Huffman out of trouble in the stage four criterium before dominating the final stage. As the peloton disintegrated on the road to Pinos Altos, Rally Cycling put Huffman, Britton, Adam de Vos and Sepp Kuss in the lead group of eight riders. Although the stage podium was elusive, the team showed its collective strength, and at the end of the day placed five riders in the top ten overall. Behind Huffman, Britton finished fifth, de Vos seventh, Kuss eighth and Matteo Dal-Cin ninth. The victory moves Huffman into the overall lead in the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour while the team increases its overall lead in the series.

The women of Rally Cycling delivered Emma White to victory in stage four

“We love racing here with the men’s and women’s teams, and always arrive motivated,” said Performance Director Jonas Carney. “The Tour of the Gila is a hard event, making it a bigger challenge to defend a leader’s jersey. It’s a real testament to our team-first mentality that we were able to take home the red leader’s jersey, the KOM title and win five stages. Both teams are performing well and there is still room for improvement before the Tour of California.”

In the women’s race, Caitlin Laroche was the team’s top finisher on the day in ninth, with stage four winner White right behind in tenth. The result moved White up to 11th overall in the general classification. In addition to White’s stage win, the squad had several impressive performances. Most notably, the strong return of Allison Beveridge from off-season surgery and the tireless pace making of Amy Benner. The team will now turn its focus towards the Redlands Bicycle Classic and the Tour of California. Unfortunately, the team will be without perpetual podium finisher Sara Bergen, who crashed in the stage three time trial and is out with a broken collarbone following opening third and fifth place results to the week.

Amy Benner rode well throughout the week in support of her teammates

“The fifth stage of the Tour of the Gila has a reputation for being the most difficult and it did not disappoint,” said White. “The race was demanding, and everyone really stepped it up to put us in the best position possible for the finish. Having two of us in the top ten after the ‘Gila Monster’ feels really good. The whole week has been an incredible learning experience and a great opportunity to work as a team.”

Away from the mountains of Southern New Mexico, Erica Allar was racking up podiums at the Rock Hill Criterium in South Carolina and the Caromont Health Criterium in North Carolina. At Rock Hill on Saturday, Allar crossed the line in third before taking the win on Sunday.

Australian results: Stage 5 Tour of the Gila 23rd April

1              Jhonatan Narvaez (Ecu) Axeon Hagens Berman 4:05:03

2              Serghei Tvetcov (Rom) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis

3              Gavin Mannion (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team

32           Jonathan Clarke (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team         0:07:36

57           Lachlan Norris (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team 0:15:10

71           Joseph Lewis (Aus) Holowesko / Citadel Racing p/b Hincapie Sportswear               0:21:40

99           Michael Rice (Aus) Axeon Hagens Berman           0:33:00

DNF       Karl Menzies (Aus) Cylance Cycling

DNF       Angus Morton (Aus) Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis