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Rob Britton, Mara Abbott conquer Silver City Tour of the Gila

Mara Abbott and Rob Britton stood atop the final podiums in Silver City as the Tour of the Gila concluded with the Gila Monster Road Race

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Rob Britton (Team SmartStop) and Mara Abbott (Amy D Foundation) claimed the overall titles on Sunday at the Silver City Tour of the Gila.

Michael Woods (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) won the concluding Gila Monster Road Race ahead of Daniel Jaramillo Diez (Jamis-Hagens Berman) with Robinson Chalapud Gomez (Orgullo Antioqueno) third, both in the same time.

But Britton, who started the day in second overall, 24 seconds behind race leader Rafael Montiel (Orgullo Antioqueno), finished with the lead group to take the overall title by the same margin over Jaramillo Diez with Gavin Mannion (Jelly Belly-Maxxis) third at 56 seconds.

“The guys rallied really well in the crit and they’ve been rising to the occasion all week,” said Britton. “Woods kept hitting it, it put the leader under pressure. Montiel was off the back with 25K to go. Once we realized he was gone, it was the best thing to just sit on.

“When [Chris] Butler came back he took the front and rode out of his skin. At 15K to go, we gapped the leader once and for all and that was it. Butler rode until he couldn’t anymore and then I took over.

“Today it was up to me to not mess up. The goal was always to win Gila and better our third place from last year. Four seconds is a hell of a way to lose a race. I worked really really hard to improve and win.”

Woods tipped his hat to Britton, saying he and Butler “did the bulk of the work for the last 20km.”

“I was fortunate to get a free ride for the final kilometers,” he added. “My big goal was to try and dislodge him [Montiel]. I had some GC aspirations still, and to move up, really, I’d try and dislodge everyone. Obviously I wasn’t going to drop everyone, but it was nice to drop Montiel and see Rob Britton win overall.”

Abbott, who led the race from wire to wire, made easy work of the women’s Gila Monster, hitting the line 37 seconds ahead of runner-up Katie Hall (UnitedHealthcare). Breanne Nalder (DNA Cycling-K4) rounded out the podium three minutes later.

“The climb isn’t as hard as some of the other climbs that happened earlier in the race, but at the end of five days of racing they’re fairly epic,” said Abbott. “You’re riding along, through the forest, and you can hear the birds singing, which generally doesn’t happen at bike races.”

Nalder may have missed the birdsong in the excitement of making the podium at the Gila Monster.

“I feel out of this world,” she said. “I don’t know what to say. I’m toast. It was a long hard day, but worth it.”

On the overall, Abbott locked up a record fifth title by 2:12 over Hall, with Lauren Stephens (Tibco-SVB) third at 3:36.

“The team was really strong, they kept the race together and they did a great job riding at the front,” said Abbott. “I think a lot of the girls had really amazing breakthroughs at this race. I was really proud to ride with them and really proud to ride with the jersey. Happy to be able to win again at the Tour of the Gila.”

Hall, who said she was “tired but happy,” added that it was good to be “making progress.”

“I showed that I can still climb today, so I’m happy about that,” she said. “This is my best NRC finish so far. It was a good day.”

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