Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY 12 Alison Starnes fifth as winds create opportunity for some and loss for others
Silver City, New Mexico - Today’s third stage of the 25th edition of the SRAM Tour of the Gila was marked by windy conditions. With the Pro Women racing early, winds speeds were about 25 MPH but by mid-day wind speeds topped 30 MPH with gusts over 60 MPH.
The 16.4 mile time trial course features an outbound climb of 4 miles and an inbound climb of a little over a mile. With big rollers and a strong wind between the two climbs, the 53 women remaining in the field never had a place to recover.
Initial times came in around the 42 minute mark, but breaths were held for top time trialists like Clara Hughes, Mara Abbott (Diadora-Pasta Zara), Rhae Shaw and Alison Starnes (inset) to cross the line. With only 50 seconds separating Hughes and Abbott, the race was on to see if Abbott would retain her Leader’s Jersey. Shaw and Starnes, not in the contention for overall, were focusing on a stage win.
As the faster times began rolling in, Janel Holcomb (Colavita/Forno D’Asolo) came across with a time of 41:58, immediately placing her in contention as a podium contender. Shaw then came in with a 41:23. Breaths were held as the Canadian Team Skinsuit came blasting into sight, with Hughes rocketing to the finish line in an unbelievable time of 39:33. Everyone waited as the seconds ticked by, when finally Abbott came into sight. It was clear she would not retain her Leader’s Jersey, but how much she would lose it by was still in question. She stopped the clock at 42 flat, giving Hughes a substantial lead going into tomorrow’s criterium. Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY 12 Alison Starnes finished with a time of 42:05, merely seconds off the podium, and a strong ride in the challenging conditions.
Tomorrow’s 60 minute criterium should be a day for the sprinter’s to shine, and to relieve some of the pressure on the GC riders. However, with a late start and more strong winds forecast there still remains much potential for surprises and upsets.