Miguel Angel López (Team Medellín-EPM) erupted on the steep final ascent and won the mountaintop finish of stage 1 of the Tour of the Gila. With the solo victory he took the first men’s leader jersey after the Mogollon Road Race presented by Grant County.
Torbjørn Røed (Above & Beyond Cancer Cycling p/b Bike World) chased López across the line in second, while Richard Arnopol (Project Echelon Racing) finished third.
The men’s opening stage of the five-day race began in Gough Park in Silver City and covered 92 miles (148km) north of the city to the ghost town of Mogollon, perched on top of a mountain ridge with the narrow road hitting double-digit gradients of 15 to 19%.
The high desert terrain began with 18 downhill miles through Mangas Springs and just beyond US rider Cade Bickmore (Project Echelon Racing) won the first intermediate sprint, ahead of Colombian Brayan Sanchez (Team Medellí-EPM) in second and Dutch rider Stefan Verhoeff (Universe Cycling Team).
Just past the feed zone with 63 miles to go, Gregory Talpey (Expeditors Elite), Joey Bacala (Landis Cyclery-Trek) and Spencer Miller (Kelly Benefits Strategies/LSV) jumped away and gained a 30-second gap. They were soon joined by Stefan Verhoeff (Universe Cycling) and Jose Reyes Morales (Canel’s Zerouno). Somewhere at the second pass of the feed zone and after the second mid-race loop at the Gila River, Miller dropped out of the break and William Goodfellow (Yoeleo Factory Team) bridged to the front.
Approaching the second intermediate sprint, the fivesome increased their margin at the front to 1:05. Verhoeff took the top sprint points, with Goodfellow second and Talpey third. Chasing in earnest were Team Medellín, Toronto Hustle and Project Echelon, who did not have riders in the break.
With 25km to go the gap dipped below one minute for the break, and the peloton was soon back together. Liam Flanagan (Kelly Benefits Strategies/LSV) then struck out with a solo attack.
Flanagan was joined by teammate Patrick Welch and Ignacio de Jesús Prado (Canel’s Zerouno) with 12 miles to go across the desert terrain, and opened a gap of 1:40 across the next two miles.
However, Flanagan could not hold the pace and dropped on the uphill approach to the final climb. The peloton pulled back the other two as the road got steeper, riders from Canel’s, Medellín and Toronto Hustle surging to the front with under 5 miles to race
Where the road kicked to its stiffest section at 19% with just under 4 miles to race, Team Medellín’s López stole away with his solo attack.
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