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The Gila Monster lived up to its reputation, shaking up the GC on the final day of the Tour of the Gila with nearly a tie for the overall win between Matteo Del-Cin of Toronto Hustle, and Sean Gardner of CS Velo. Del-Cin began the day with a 2:07 lead on Gardner. It came down to a four-second time bonus on the line after Gardner finished 2:18 ahead of the Canadian in third, securing the title for the 35th Tour of the Gila.
The climbing specialists from Canel’s ZEROUNO earned the top two spots in the finale, with Lalo Corte winning the stage, and Heiner Parra getting second and winning the KOM classification.
“I guess that was a little closer than I thought it was going to be,” Gardner said, after waiting for confirmation that he had secured the title. “It’s been a couple of years with coronavirus that we haven’t had Gila. It’s pretty awesome that it returned and it’s a pretty crazy race out here in Silver City. It’s pretty cool that we got the overall GC; I’ve got to let it sink in a little bit.”
After losing the GC on the final day at Redlands by seconds, CS Velo director, Tanner Putt spoke of the mentality of the team, arriving in Gila so soon after the loss at Redlands and coming out on top in Silver City.
“When I got signed on as director of the team, the goal was Redlands, Gila, and Joe Martin, those were our big three goals of the season,” Putt said.
“Redlands was a fantastic race for us, we had the jersey for a while, a couple of podiums, but I’m just blown away by Gila. We had a little bit of bad luck this last week, some sick riders, a tough transfer in between Redlands and Gila. I’m just so unbelievably proud of what these guys have been able to pull off.
“If you look at the past winners of the last 10 years of Tour of the Gila, I think every single one of them has ridden in the WorldTour or has gone to a WorldTour team from this race. It is a huge stage race for American cycling and produces a lot of amazing cyclists from it. Yet to be able to win this overall at CS Velo is just unbelievable,” Putt added.
Del-Cin had put in a lot of work leading a break on the Inner Loop to gain some time, followed by his second place in the time trial. He spoke of his disappointment at the finish.
“This stage is super heavy. Torbjorn (Røed) went and I couldn’t follow him so I was chasing a bit,” Del-Cin said. “When the Canel’s guys and Sean went on the final climb, I was already so in the box and cramping, I just rode my tempo up it and hoped I could keep them in check. It turns out I was four seconds short…that’s the way shit goes sometimes.”
After losing contention for the GC during the time trial, the Colombian Heiner Parra was happy to finish behind his teammate and stage winner, Lalo Corte, to secure the polka dot jersey. Parra had previously worked as Nairo Quintana’s domestique in South America during his rise to Europe. Crossing the finish hand in hand with Corte, Parra was happy to gift him the stage.
“To have my teammate Lalo Corte win, is the same as a team win,” Parra said. “He’s such a good teammate, always at my side helping me with whatever I need. I wanted to pay him back in this way. We came in, wanting to win this stage and fighting for the mountains. In the end, we gave it everything.”
“I’m so proud of this entire team, from our directors to our sponsors to every teammate,” Corte added “Parra is a teammate I respect very much, I’m proud to say he is a good friend. I’m emotional with this win on the queen stage, a stage that is so hard, but so beautiful.”
Røed rounded out the podium for third on GC, with Tyler Stites (Project Echelon) retaining the green jersey in the points classification. Jared Scott (Aevolo) would end with the best young rider classification jersey and Canel’s ZEROUNO with the overall team classification.