UnitedHealthcare Women’s Squad Captures Overall Team Honors
The Silver City Tour of the Gila concluded on Sunday with the Gila Monster Road Race. The UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team’s Mara Abbott claimed both the stage win and the overall victory with a well orchestrated attack on the stage’s final climb and the unwavering support of her teammates throughout the event.
This fifth leg of the Tour of the Gila was no easy affair, with the course charting a 68.9 mile journey from Silver City to Pinos Altos. Along the way, riders would overcome three categorized climbs and one uncategorized 6710ft peak as they crossed the continental divide en route to the finish line.
The racing was aggressive from the start, with a series of individual riders going clear in solo moves, until the 25 mile mark, when a group of seven got away. Among the escapees was UnitedHealthcare rider Sharon Laws. With Laws’ inclusion in the day’s primary break, the rest of the team set tempo at the front of the peloton to control the gap, knowing that they now had a greater advantage in their quest to defend Abbott’s race leader’s jersey.
When the riders hit the final climb, Abbott took charge, attacking to bridge up to the remains of the break, well aware that Laws was ahead to offer additional support if needed. Abbott had the form and determination to ride through the break, attacking again for a solo win, almost two minutes ahead of second place, to put an exclamation point on a stellar week for her individually, and for the team. Abbott’s general classification margin of victory after five days of racing topped four minutes.
Behind Abbot, Laws and Katie Hall were able to stay with a select group of climbers to solidify their positions in the top ten. Their effort was rewarded as the UnitedHealthcare women also captured the overall team classification for the event.
Adrian Hedderman, directing the action for UnitedHealthcare during the Gila Monster Road Race, enthused, “The team executed the plan to absolute perfection today. Our goal going into the stage was to ensure we took the overall victory and the stage win was the icing on the cake. Sharon being in the early move took the pressure off the team and Alison and Rushlee did a great job of setting pace through the valley to keep things in check. Once they launched Mara into the base of the final climb, the stage win was all but assured. It was a fitting end to a great week of racing by the whole team”