Defending champion Mara Abbott picked up where she left off winning stage 1 of the Tour of the Gila, a 114.3km day that finished with a steep 10.8km climb to the finish in Mogollon, New Mexico Wednesday. UnitedHealthcare’s Katie Hall was second behind Abbott, who is riding this race with the Amy D. Foundation team. Twenty16 – Sho-Air’s Kristen Armstrong rounded out the podium in third.

“My team demonstrated to me how much they trust me because of how hard they rode and how much of themselves they put on the line. Being able to be here and be supported by the race year after year … is amazing,” said Abbott.

In the 148-kilometer men’s race Jelly Belly’s Lachlan Morton claimed his first career win at the Gila. Rob Britton, winner in 2015 was not far behind in second on the same finishing climb that the women faced. UnitedHealthcare’s Daniel Jaramillo was third behind Rally’s Canadian leader, Britton.

“It’s always a tough week, it comes down to the final day on the Gila Monster,” Morton said. “I’m pretty confident. We have a strong team here.”

On Thursday, stage 2 will run on the Inner Loop course, a 122.6km race for the men and a 119.3km route for the women, starting and finishing in Fort Bayard.