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American Mara Abbott (UnitedHealthcare) triumphed in the fourth stage at the Vuelta a El Salvador on Saturday, claiming the overall lead with one day of racing left.
The 28-year-old broke away from the field on the final climb, a 15-kilometer ascent of the San Salvador Volcano. She began the stage 44 seconds back but her solo finishing effort provided her with a comfortable lead of 2:18 ahead of Sunday’s finale.
“It’s always exciting to get to race a course like this, it’s no secret that I love mountainous climbs and this is one of the best I’ve ridden,” Abbott said in a team release. “It’s even more exciting to get to be here with such a strong team and feel so supported. I’m excited to get to race one more day together tomorrow.”
Abbott’s teammates Katie Hall and Sharon Laws attacked the peloton at the base of the San Salvador Volcano, a move that forced the other teams in the front group to chase. It put Abbott in a prime spot and when she launched her attack, no one could match her pace.
Abbott crossed the finish line 2:49 ahead of the next rider, Alena Amialiusik ( Astana-BePink). Brazil’s Uenia Fernandes da Souza was third.
Abbott leads Amialiusik and Olga Zabelinskaya (RusVelo) in the GC standings.
“Today’s stage had Mara’s name written all over it, so we were confident she could take the stage and the leader’s jersey,” UnitedHealthcare sport director Rachel Heal said of the 43.8km route from Nueva Concepción to Santa Ana. “It’s a great feeling to come into a stage like today with such a strong team and a loaded gun like Mara, but it’s bike racing and anything can happen, so to pull off the victory and take the lead is very sweet.”
The race concludes with Sunday’s 83.1km trek around San Salvador.