Project Echelon Racing’s team of time-trial specialists led by George Simpson put on a clinic Friday at the UCI Men’s Tour of the Gila Stage 3 as Matteo Dal-Cin (Toronto Hustle) took over the overall race lead.
Simpson stood atop the day’s podium while his teammates Tyler Stites and Stephen Vogel took third and fourth respectively. Only Dal-Cin ruined the Project Echelon podium party by clocking in a time that was good enough for second.
“We’ve been talking about it and looking at the wind and prepping for this all week, because I think we’re all kind of dorks about it,” Simpson said. “But we had great weather; I think the wind was pretty calm, and I think it’s always interesting at altitude because this is a hilly course and you have to go hard on the climbs. But if you go too far in the red, you’re going to go bang at some point.
“I think we had a great GC ride with our guy Tyler [Stites]. I fortunately was able to get the win. This was my fifth time doing this time trial, and I always wanted it, so it feels really good,” he said.
Heading into the time trial, Dal-Cin needed to close a 10-second, general-classification time gap on Toby Roed (Yoelo Test Team p/b 4MIND Project) from Norway, who wore the red leader’s jersey. Thanks to his efforts Friday, Dal-Cin now has a 47-second cushion and the lead.
“I was super happy with the TT,” Dal-Cin said. “I went into it with a pacing strategy and felt like I executed that to the best of my ability with the legs I had on the day. It was not too, too windy out there, so riding the aero gear wasn’t too squirrely, which some years it’s a little scary on some of those descents with a big wheel. I was thrilled with the effort and especially with the strategy we used for pacing.”
But second place on GC is another story. Before Friday, Heiner Parra Bustamante (Canel’s ZEROUNO) from Colombia, was six seconds back from first place, a thin margin that Stites destroyed in a blistering time-trial performance. Stites, who was in seventh on GC after Stage 2, now finds himself in second place after Stage 3. Parra Bustamante now is down three minutes and 49 seconds.
“Project Echelon prides ourselves on doing good in the TTs, so I think we lived up to that today,” Stites said. “[I] just tried to claw back some time in the GC, and it looks like I’m sitting second now, which is good, and anything can happen on Sunday because there is so much climbing. I’m just going to rest up now and give it my best on Sunday.”
Parra Bustamante said he and his team were slightly unsatisfied with their performance today.
“This isn’t our kind of race, so we tried to lose the least amount of time possible,” Parra Bustamante said in Spanish. “Tomorrow during the crit, we will try to save as much as we can so we can hopefully win the final stage, which is super hard.”
Roed, who still maintains a podium position, currently in third on GC, said he’s looking ahead to the Gila Monster stage, perhaps where he can match his Stage 1 performance where he out-climbed his competition.
“So, the TT was hard, of course, but I felt I did as good as I could, and I definitely got it all out there,” Roed said. “I ended up suffering a bit on the way back in the headwind, but I [am] happy I didn’t lose too much, and I’m just excited for Sunday to get some more climbing in and hopefully put some more time in the other guys on Sunday.”
Meanwhile, Landis/Trek’s Samuel Gilletly moved into fourth place on GC and 25 seconds back from a podium spot.
“I felt good out there, I’m really new to riding a TT bike,” Gilletly said. “I was really happy finishing in fifth and surprised that I moved up as much as I did. I’m just taking it one day at a time. It’s a really hard race and much bigger than anything I’ve done before. [I’m] super happy having Stephen [Schaefer] to ride with. I just followed him down the descent yesterday, and I’m hoping we can stick together as much as possible on Stage 5.”
Xander White (CS Velo) from New Zealand leap-frogged Jared Scott for Best Young Rider and moved into fifth on GC. The Kiwi was in nearly every significant move during Stage 2 and appears keen to manufacture any gains he can in the remaining two stages.
The UCI Men 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.
“It will be exciting being in the leader’s jersey and it will be nice to ride defense iwht the boys,” Dal-Cin said. “The crit’s pretty straight forward. I would imagine there will be some guys looking to sprint for the stage as well as us being keen to keep it together to retain GC.”
1) George Simpson – Project Echelon Racing
2) Matteo Dal-Cin
3) Tyler Stites – Project Echelon Racing
GC Standings After Stage 3:
1) Matteo Dal-Cin – Toronto Hustle: 7:01:54
2) Tyler Stites – Project Echelon: 7:02:41
3) Toby Roed – Yoeleo Test Team p/b 4MindProject: 7:02:57
U23 Standings After Stage 3:
1) Xander White – CS Velo: 7:03:26
2) Jared Scott – Aevolo Cycling: 7:03:34
3) Caleb Classen – Team California/HMS: 7:05:57
Sprinter’s Jersey Standings After Stage 3:
1) Tyler Stites – Project Echelon Racing: 16 pts
2) Xander White – CS Velo: 13 pts
3) Nacho Prado – 12 pts
KOM Standings After Stage 3:
1) Heiner Parra Bustamante – Canel’s Zerouno: 20 pts
2) Toby Roed – Yoeleo Test Team p/b 4MindProject: 15 pts
3) Matteo Dal-Cin – Toronto Hustle: 15pts
Team Classification After Stage 3:
1) Project Echelon Racing: 21:13:18
2) CS Velo: 21:13:21
3) Toronto Hustle: 21:19:56