A massive time gap between the top two leaders in the UCI Women’s Tour of the Gila was all but obliterated Friday when Krista Doebel-Hickok (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) gained two minutes and 18 seconds on Lauren De Crescenzo (CINCH Rise) in the Tyrone Time Trial.
Only 14 seconds were left on the table between the top two after Doebel-Hickok clocked a smoking time and De Crescenzo went into damage-control mode after suffering a flat and having put in a 67-mile solo effort on the previous stage.
“Coming into today, honestly I had just given up on the red jersey and was just stoked to have the polka dot and a couple days secured in that,” Doebel-Hickok said. “My [directeur sportif] and all my staff were like ‘you’re going to have a great TT,’ and I was like, ‘no, it’s going to be awful,’ and then I went and did what I could do and it was great.”
Earlier in the week on Stage 1, Doebel-Hickok climbed to the top of Mogollon for the red leader’s jersey, only to lose it on Stage 2 to De Crescenzo, who appeared to have a nearly unbeatable lead of two minutes and 32 seconds going into Stage 3’s time trial.
Although De Crescenzo still wears the red jersey, time bonuses in Saturday’s Stage 4 Downtown Silver City Criterium will come into play – whether Doebel-Hickok can gain time on De Crescenzo or if her teammates can help prevent De Crescenzo from picking up time bonuses.
Either way, the two teams, EF Education-TIBCO-SVB and CINCH Rise, will have their work cut out for them on Stage 5’s Gila Monster with 5,610 feet of elevation gain.
“Yeah, today didn’t go as I had hoped ー I flatted,” said De Crescenzo, who also had a mechanical on Stage 1 at the base of the Mogollon climb. “I kind of paid the price with my legs from yesterday … I paid the price. I’m excited; tomorrow’s the crit. I’m very excited for the Gila Monster, but I have a little bit of time before the Gila Monster. But the race is interesting now with 14 seconds on GC. I’m excited.”
The script flipped for other riders who made gains on the day, picking off GC rivals and moving up into podium contention, including Maddy Ward (InstaFund Racing), who shaved off two minutes and 16 seconds, moving from fifth place into third on GC after a second-place finish in the time trial.
“I was aiming for sub-40 and I got 39:36, came in second, only two seconds off of Krista who got first,” Ward said. “I started off really hard. I just kept my speed over the top so I could get up to speed and carry momentum as soon as I could on the downhill, and just try my best to hold a high speed on the descents and stay steady on the climbs and it paid off in the end.”
Emily Marcolini (3T/Q+M Cycling Team), who came close to winning GC at Redlands Bicycle Classic the week before, improved to fifth from seventh place on GC, but still has a deficit of over four minutes to the top spot.
“I felt pretty good today,” Marcolini said. “I definitely feel tired. I feel the last two weeks of racing for sure, and the altitude, but I just went out there and rode as hard as I could but still within myself and just hoped that it was enough to have a good ride for today. The wind was a little bit tricky especially through the top part up there, but I was able to hold my power fairly well and have a good ride.”
Despite all of the leap-frogging after Stage 3, Diana Peñuela, DNA Pro Cycling Team’s GC rider from Colombia, kept her exact same time gap from Stage 2 at four minutes and 23 seconds back from the leader. Unfortunately, she dropped two places into sixth on GC.
Her teammate and current Best Young Rider, Anet Barrera from Mexico, flew across the line, setting a new best time before it was shattered by other GC contenders. Barrera placed sixth on the day and cut one minute and two seconds from her GC deficit but will stay put in eighth place.
“I think it was a really good result,” Barrera said in Spanish. “My training has really helped me prepare for the competition. My team gave me the right equipment and I just pushed the pedals, so I’m really happy with it and I’m looking forward to the last two days.”
The UCI Women will get more time to rest between now and tomorrow afternoon’s Stage 4 Downtown Silver City Criterium where precision racing skills and tactics will be on full display for a crowd of local and international spectators alike.
“So crits I used to hate them, and then I did a bunch of them and now I really love them, and we have a really good, strong team to take them on, so I’m actually really excited for tomorrow and it will be a little bit of a more chill day, a shorter day,” Doebel-Hickok said.
1) Krista Doebel-Hickok – EF Education – TIBCO-SVB
2) Maddy Ward – InstaFund Racing
3) Emily Marcolini – 3T/Q+M Cycling
GC Standings After Stage 3:
1) Lauren De Crescenzo – CINCH Rise: 7:17:51
2) Krista Doebel-Hickok – EF Education-TIBCO-SVB: 7:18:05
3) Maddy Ward – InstaFund Racing: 7:20:06
U25 Standings After Stage 3:
1) Anet Barrera – DNA Pro Cycling Team: 7:23:03
2) Kira Payer – DNA Pro Cycling Team: 7:29:01
3) Kyleigh Spearing – CINCH Rise: 7:35:33
Sprinter’s Jersey Standings After Stage 3:
1) Lauren De Crescenzo – CINCH Rise: 20 pts
2) Maggie Coles-Lyster – DNA Pro Cycling Team: 13 pts
3) Krista Doebel-Hickok – EF Education – TIBCO-SVB: 12 pts
QOM Standings After Stage 3:
1) Krista Doebel-Hickok – EF Education – TIBCO-SVB: 21 pts
2) Lauren De Crescenzo – CINCH Rise: 15 pts
3) Emily Marcolini – 3T/Q+M Cycling: 13 pts
Team Classification After Stage 3:
1) EF Education – TIBCO-SVB: 22:09:20
2) DNA Pro Cycling Team: 22:09:43
3) InstaFund Racing: 22:30:13