George Simpson was the fastest against the clock on stage 3 of Tour of the Gila on Friday, earning victory in the Tyrone time trial after finishing third in 2019. The Project Echelon rider finished the 16.7-mile course in a blazing time of 33:23.
The Echelon team had held the top three spots with stage 2 winner, Tyler Stites in second (33:45) and Steve Vogel in third (33:59) until Toronto Hustle’s Matteo Del-Cin crossed the line with a time of 33:30, enough for second place on the day, moving him into the overall lead of the race.
The Canadian had spent most of the previous day on the Inner Loop, driving the break, but had enough energy reserved in his legs to shake up the GC. The 31-year-old previously lead the GC in 2017, after winning Mogollon that year, but lost it in the end to then-teammate, Evan Huffman.
“Yesterday definitely I spent some energy but not too bad,” Del-Cin said. “I still had good legs today. It wasn’t too windy compared to some of the years that we’ve been here. I was running a 55 chainring and spinning pretty bad, channeling my junior self with the gear restrictions running at about 120 rpm, my legs were definitely feeling it on the way back.”
Racing in his second TT in as many years, Andre Røed (Yoeleo) finished in the top 10, more than a minute down on Del-Cin with a time of 34:43 sliding him down to third in the overall with Stites in second.
Heiner Parra (Canel’s ZeroUno) lost the most on the day, finishing more than four minutes down, and is now ninth on GC.
“The last time trial I did was two years ago,” Røed said after finishing. “I wasn’t expecting to do too good today because I haven’t ridden too much TT. I know Matteo is riding really strong. The goal was not to lose too much, and at the end of the day I think it’s still going to come down to Sunday.”
The GC contenders will look to stay safe in the downtown crit for stage 4, before the big battle commences on the Gila Monster Sunday.
“Never say nothing is going to happen tomorrow, but we’ll see what happens,” Del-Cin said. “This race always pans out on that last day, so we’ll see. Hopefully, the climbing legs are there on Sunday, at least we’ll be out there and throw down.”
Stage winner, Simpson was thrilled with his victory after missing the win in the past and is confident the team will have what it takes to fight for the GC on Sunday.
“This was one of my goals this season so it feels good,” Simpson said. “We brought a really strong team, we went one, three, and four in this time trial, but the GC is our big objective of the week.”
Xander White (CS Velo) finished in the top 10 and now leads the Best Young Rider classification. Stites (Project Echelon) remains in the green jersey, with Heiner Parra (Canel’s ZeroUno) in the KOM polka dot jersey.
De Crescenzo hangs on to GC in the women’s race
Krista Doebel-Hickok of EF Education-TIBCO-SVB earned her second stage victory of the week in the Tyrone TT, finishing with a time of 39:34 in Tyrone.
Maddy Ward (Instafund LaPrima) was the only other rider to finish under 40 minutes, missing the win by a mere 2 seconds in a time of 39:36 on the line. Emily Marcolini (3T/Q+M) was third, rounding out the podium.
“I did do a lot of work yesterday but if you saw the amount of work Poido [Sara Poidevin] did yesterday, she saved me so much time but also so much energy that I had today,” Doebel-Hickok said. “It all adds up, the entire team has been so committed and has put so much faith in me; we never stop fighting.
“I had succumbed to the fact that I was going to give up a minute and drop to third on GC but I’ve never been on a UCI GC podium so I thought if I just drop to third on GC it’s a good day, so I wasn’t expecting this.”
After suffering a flat on her rear disc wheel near the turnaround, Lauren De Crescenzo managed to salvage the overall lead, but only by a slim 14-second margin ahead of Doebel-Hickok. She had begun the day with a 2:32 margin on GC.
This was the second mechanical De Crescenzo suffered after her derailleur broke on Mogollon, dropping her out of contention before her monumental ride on stage 2. The Cinch rider was disappointed but remains confident for Sunday’s Gila Monster.
“At least I salvaged the GC. It was tough to bounce back from that, having to come to a complete stop,” De Crescenzo said.
“Yesterday was kind of like a three-hour time trial. So I’m going from not having the greatest legs ever, and then having to pull over and change a disc — that was tough. I knew I had a lead on GC so I was trying to hold on to the lead. I just salvaged as much as I could from this situation. But this happens, I’m all in for Sunday.”
Maddy Ward moved up to third on GC, after going two for two on Friday’s stage. The Instafund LaPrima rider surprised even herself.
“As everyone knows this is not a flat course, so it’s a climber’s delight out here and so people keep saying – Maddy! You’re a climber! I’m kind of believing them now,” Ward said. “I was looking forward to today. Getting second to Krista is pretty much a win; she’s such an incredible climber.”
There was no change in the other classifications.
Stage 4 downtown Silver City criterium begins with the UCI pro women at 2:30 p.m. MDT, followed by the UCI pro men at 5:15 p.m.