The Rally Pro Cycling team continued its dominance at New Mexico’s Tour of the Gila, with rider Evan Huffman winning Friday’s individual time trial and slotting into the race lead. Huffman took over the GC from his teammate Matteo Dal-Cin, who won the race’s opening stage on Wednesday.
Huffman’s stage victory follows the stage 2 win by Rally’s Eric Young on Thursday.
Huffman finished the 16.7-mile course in 33:07, finishing 25 seconds up on TJ Eisenhart (Holowesko-Citadel), with Nigel Ellsay (Silber) finishing third, 35 seconds down. Rally placed three riders in the top-10, with Dal-Cin finishing sixth and Rob Britton finishing 7th, 46 and 49 seconds in arrears respectively.
Huffman, 27, won the same Tour of the Gila time trial stage in 2012. After winning on Friday, Huffman said his legs felt better during the recent effort than they did in 2012.
“I felt fantastic today, both physically and mentally,” Huffman said. ““This is my fifth time doing this. I felt really good, speed and power wise, and made it happen. I’m really happy. This time is a little different now that I’m in the leader jersey. I think I have a legitimate shot at holding it to the last day.”
Eisenhart’s performance bumped him up from 22nd place to second place, while previous Dal-Cin moved down to third place heading into Saturday’s downtown criterium.
“I went out there, had a target of power that I wanted to hit and stuck to that plan,” Eisenhart said. “I didn’t panic, stayed in my limit. My plan today was to put as much time into the climbers as possible. To finish second to a guy like Huffman is an honor. I’m happy with my time, I honestly went out there and had fun.”
Eisenhart’s teammate Brendan Rhim was the first rider to spend a considerable amount of time in the hot seat, clocking an impressive 34:48 as one of the early starters. George Simpson (Gateway Harley Davidson) knocked Rhim out of the top spot with a time of 34:26, which was good enough to get the young rider into the top 10 at the end of the day.
Simpson’s result stood the test of time until Huffman and Eisenhart came across the line, and from then on, no one could top them.
Huffman said he hopes Rally can continue its dominating performance during Saturday’s criterium. The team will be working for Young.
“Eric (Young) is in top sprinting form so we may also try to set him up for a shot at the finish,” Huffman said. “The final stage will be incredibly difficult, as always. I have a good advantage on most of the pure climbers, and the team is riding well, so I’m confident I can keep the jersey until the end.”