Emily Ehrlich (Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24)’s long-range campaign over stage races across the U.S. got even longer Friday when she picked up her third consecutive individual time trial win this year at Stage 3 of Tour of the Gila.
Austin Killips (Amy D Foundation) moved into the overall race lead by 22 seconds, displacing Marcela Prieto Castañeda (PatoBike), who led for the first two stages. Ehrlich is now second overall with Nadia Gontova (Roxo Racing) the best young rider, in third, one minute and 12 seconds back.
“The TT today was really hard,” Ehrlich said, who has won time trial stages and overall races at Valley of the Sun and Redlands Bicycle Classic this year. She started the day one minute and 48 seconds back from the overall lead in ninth. “It was super critical to get everything right. But I did pretty well. I’m really happy with all the little things I did to make it work out. I’ve moved up in GC a little bit and I’m happy about that.”
Riders checked in their bikes to make sure they met UCI regulations and set off one by one from Tyrone into a mostly diagonal cross wind for the 16.15-mile, against-the-clock race. They started in reverse order of the overall race lead so riders most in contention for the red jersey headed out last.
Laurel Quiñones (Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24) set an early fast time of 40:11, but Ehrlich smashed it with 38:15. Olympic silver medalist Olga Zabelinskaya (Tashkent City) came close with 40:06 and fifth place, but Maeghan Easler (Roxo Racing) leapfrogged with 39:24 and second place.
Killips clocked 39:33 and came in third on the day. Her team director, Julie Kuliecza, said her team is excited Killips now has the red leader’s jersey.
“The whole team is so stoked, and we’re ready to defend the jersey tomorrow,” Kuliecza said. “We do love a crit, but we know that especially DNA and TWENTY24 will be looking for some of those time bonuses. We’re just going to do our best to kind of scoop those up and have some fun because we really do love crits. And then Gila Monster is the Gila Monster, it’s attritional, we know what to do there, we just have a really solid team, everybody really cares about each other and takes care of each other, and so it’s lots of laughs and lots of fun, and serious business on the bike, but afterwards we’re all smiles and hugs, so it’s been a really good experience so far.”
Prieto Castañeda, who fell three places to fourth, said she tried her best.
“The time trial is not my strong suit, and today I lost the GC jersey, but the race is not over yet,” Prieto Castañeda said. “There are still two stages left, a criterium and a high mountain stage, where I will try to finish at the top in the best possible way and defend a podium finish.”
Riders will make their way around downtown Silver City Saturday for a 25-lap, 27-mile criterium in a show of speed, smarts and strength. UCI Women start at 1:30 p.m. and the UCI Men start at 3:45 p.m.