Katie Hall wins the Vail Pass time trial stage by 26 seconds and moved into the overall race lead.

This year’s queen of American stage races took the crown Friday in Colorado Classic stage 2. Katie Hall (UnitedHealthcare) won the Vail Pass time trial stage by 26 seconds and moved into the overall race lead.

Her teammate Leah Thomas was second. Rally’s Gillian Ellsay was third, 48 seconds behind.

“It was a really hard time trial for us just because of the altitude,” said Hall. “I felt like it was really important to pace it really, really well because if you go too hard here it just takes a long time to recover because there’s just no oxygen up here.”

Hall has run the table in 2018, winning the Joe Martin Stage Race, Tour of the Gila, and Amgen Tour of California.

The 31-year-old Californian is well-suited for the high-altitude climbing test. Stage 2’s 15.2km route topped out at 2,943 meters (9,656 feet) above sea level. She won in a time of 30:08.

“This one is difficult because you’re pedaling the whole time. There’s no real downhills, no place to recover and it just gets harder and harder,” Hall added. “I went out really conservatively on the flat part because I knew I needed to save a lot for the hills … I still didn’t save enough. I was really dying at the end, but everybody feels that way up here. I’m happy how it worked out.”

Hall’s strong UHC team will now work to defend the lead over the weekend in the remaining two stages. Saturday will be a flat 50-minute criterium and Sunday’s stage 4 will be a 34.8km circuit with only a slight hill.