Diadora-Pasta Zara made their presence known in a big way Wednesday at the start of the 5-stage Tour of the Gila in Silver City, New Mexico.
Team leader and defending champion Mara Abbott, with the help of her teammates Claudia Hausler, Eleanor Patuzzo, Rachel Neylan, and Amber Pierce, won Gila’s 117-km first stage by a sizable 19 seconds over 2nd place finisher Flavia Oliveira of Pactimo Racing.
In a day marked by strong winds, which thwarted most breakaway attempts, the Diadora-Pasta Zara squad protected Abbott from the wind until a few kilometers before the final 10-km Mongollon climb.
That’s where Abbott launched her attack. Only Oliveira was able to counter, but it was Abbott, the U.S. National Champion, who finished first across the line.
“The team was nothing short of fantastic. Perfect,” said Abbott after the race, who credited the win to her teammates. “Now, we will do everything to defend the leader’s jersey.”
Team manager Manel Lacambra said after the race, “It was a spectacular performance, especially because we were returning from a mishap. The flight that was supposed to bring us to Silver City was canceled at the last minute. The girls slept only five hours before getting on their bikes.”
“Nevertheless, they were fantastic,” said Lacambra. “And it all paid off with a victory by a champion.”
Elite Women Stage #1
1 Mara Abbott (Diadora-Pasta Zara Team) 4:11:40
2 Flavia Oliveira (Pactimo Cycling Team) 0:00:19
3 Clara Hughes (Pactimo Cycling Team) 0:00:50