The Stage 4 Downtown Criterium at the Tour of The Gila is one of the most challenging criterium races of the season. Nestled in the quaint downtown which rests at over 7,000ft of elevation, the riders are fighting thin air and fatigue through out the stage. On paper the course looks to be a traditional 4 turn crit. However, there is a steep rise on each lap which is coupled with a blistering descent between turns 3 and 4 where the riders were clocked at nearly 50MPH as they entered the final turn on the course.
Alfredo Rodriguez had a breakthrough result on the stage, placing 3rd in what is the teams, and his, first UCI podium appearance. Once he received his massage and had dinner, we quickly checked in with him to hear about his solid day of work for the team.
Elevate-KHS: Alfredo! Congratulations on your podium today! What a great race!
Alfredo Rodriguez: Yeah, thank you, I am happy!
Elevated-KHS: It looks like the team rode a very calculated race. What was the plan for today?
AR: The whole race, we needed to stay in the front group. With 10 laps to go, the whole team needed come to the front to set up for the sprint. This meant that we needed to set temp and chase back any dangerous moves up the road. Greg Henderson of United Healthcare was up the road solo so we had to bring him back. As the laps were coming down, Cylance Pro Cycling came to the front as well to give some additional help.
Elevate-KHS: Is this your first time racing the Tour of The Gila?
AR: This is my first time racing the UCI race. I race last year in the Category 1-2 event. There is a very big difference in the events and it was much easier last year. The Pro racing has been very aggressive, especially in the finishes of the stages.
Elevate-KHS: You had a very successful campaign at the Tour of Taiwan UCI 2.1 event last month. On stage 1 you finished 7th and stage 5 you sprinted to an impressive 5th place. How do those finishes compare to today’s stage at Gila?
AR: Going for the sprint here it is better, because in Taiwan we had only 5 riders, and here I have the whole team there to help and they were able to take control of the front. I also have many friends in the US peloton from racing here more, and friends from Mexico are here racing. We trust each other more and the racing is more predictable since we are used to being in tight places together.
Elevate-KHS: This is the first UCI podium for you and for the team. Congratulations!
AR: Thank you! I am very excited, and I have even more excitement for the upcoming races. This makes me excited for more racing to come. I have been thinking about this stage since we arrived at Gila, since it is my speciality. Two days ago I was not happy with my result at the Inner Loop Road Race, and I wanted more. So I am very happy to have taken advantage of the opportunity and finish on the podium. This result is for the whole team, we all did it together.
Elevate-KHS: The fifth and final stage begins early tomorrow morning. What do you think for the 100 mile stage?
AR: The Gila Monster is very hard, but my teammates need help and my work is to go back to the car, get bottles, food, and help set them up for the big climbs. Our goal as a team is to finish top 5 as a team overall general classification. To do this, we have to protect Connor, Alex and Eder and make sure they are in the front group going into the final big climbs.
Good luck tomorrow! We will all be cheering from home!
Sunday Race Information:
Stage 5 Gila Monster Road Race, 8:40 MDT. The race will cover 100 miles with 9,131ft of climbing combined with 8,252ft of descending through twisty mountain roads. The racers will contest 5 KOM lines and 2 Sprint Point lines, so the race is destined to be active from the gun. Follow Tour of The Gila on Twitter #Gila2017 for live reports from the race course. You can also follow the event through Facebook. Route information can be found on the event website Tour of The Gila.
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