Lauren Stephens secures commanding win on Tour of the Gila’s first stage

In a display of sheer climbing ability, Lauren Stephens of Cynisca Cycling captured a solo victory in the opening stage of the 2024 Tour of the Gila, earning the first leader’s jersey of the UCI women’s race. It’s the resurgent American’s third victory of the year after wins at Clasica de Almeria and the Tour de Normandie. Nadia Gontova of DNA Pro Cycling, who recently triumphed at the Redlands Bicycle Classic, narrowly missed out, finishing second just nine seconds behind. Marcela Prieto of the Steve Tilford Foundation completed the podium, a further 52 seconds adrift.

The defining moment of the race occurred during the Mogollon Road Race p/b Grant County, where Stephens, Gontova, and Prieto established a significant early breakaway. By the midpoint of the 71-mile (114km) course, their lead over the main peloton had stretched to an imposing 12 minutes and 50 seconds.

On the challenging ascents of the Mogollon climb, spanning 3.8 miles with gradients peaking at 19%, the race reached its climax. Stephens and Gontova were initially together on the lower, more confined slopes of the climb. However, as the road steepened, Stephens launched a decisive attack that Gontova couldn’t answer, allowing Stephens to surge ahead and claim a clear victory.

This marked Stephens’ fifth participation in the UCI 2.2 stage race held in New Mexico, with her best result being a third overall in 2015, and she has consistently finished in the top seven in her previous appearances.

2024 Tour of the Gila Stage 1 result

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