- Evans celebrates
- Evans sprints
- Peanut Butter & Co. in control
- Mara Abbott defends her overall lead. Photo: Casey B. Gibson
- Shelly Evans en route to victory. Photo: Casey B. Gibson
- Chillin' like a villain. Photo: Casey B. Gibson
- Alison Powers lives up to her name. Photo: Casey B. Gibson
- Carmen Small en route to third. Photo: Casey B. Gibson
Smooth, not crunchy: Peanut Butter & Co. is not toast
SRAM Tour of the Gila leader Mara Abbott and her Peanut Butter & Co.-Twenty12 team entered Sunday’s crit coming off two tough days. On Thursday’s stage 2, several teammates struggled to finish in brutal winds, and watched Colavita-Sutter Home take the top three spots on the day while moving Andrea Dvorak a bit closer to Abbott on the overall. On Friday, Vera Bradley Foundation’s Alison Powers chopped more than two minutes out of Abbott’s GC lead in the 16-mile Tyrone time trial, where Abbott finished seventh.
Things went a lot more smoothly for the squad in Saturday’s criterium, where the team expertly protected Abbott and then won the stage with sprint star Shelley Evans.
“It worked out great,” Abbott said. “I have a wonderful team and I’m really happy to keep the red jersey for another day.”
Vera Bradley’s Carla Swart, the 2009 Gila crit winner, was second and Carmen Small (Colavita), the leader of the points competition, was third. There were no significant changes to the top of the general classification standings heading into Sunday’s Gila Monster finale.
The criterium is not the best place to shake up the GC, but second-placed Alison Powers’ Vera Bradley squad did its best to grab some intermediate sprint time bonuses, although Evans was more successful in that endeavor. Powers, who started the day 1:09 behind Abbott overall, also attacked on the bell lap and got several bike lengths ahead of the peloton. Colavita and Peanut Butter & Co. were quick to shut that down, but Swart said Powers’ attack still served its purpose.
“It made it so that Peanut Butter couldn’t have a proper train,” Swart said.
Proper train or not, Evans was still able to get in position.
“To get Alison back with the pack was the main goal,” Evans said. “Kat Carroll and Kristin McGrath brought her back. With one to go I was sitting on the Colavita train and I was in good position coming out of the last turn, sitting on fifth wheel. That was perfect for this course because it’s a long straightaway to finish, it was windy and it’s a little uphill. I had a wheel the whole time and I sprinted around Carla Swart at the end,” Evans said.
-Neal Rogers contributed to this report
Top Ten Stage
1. Shelley Evans Peanut Butter & Co.twenty12
2. Carla Swart Team Vera Bradley Foundation at 0:00:00
3. Carmen Small Colavita/baci P/b Cooking Light at 0:00:00
4. Kelly Benjamin Colavita/baci P/b Cooking Light at 0:00:00
5. Catherine Cheatley Colavita/baci P/b Cooking Light at 0:00:00
6. Anne Samplonius Team Vera Bradley Foundation at 0:00:00
7. Andrea Dvorak Colavita/baci P/b Cooking Light at 0:00:00
8. Meredith Miller Team Tibco at 0:00:00
9. Vzesniauskaite Colavita/baci P/b Cooking Light at 0:00:00
10. Leah Guloien Total Restoration Cycling Team at 0:00:00
Top Ten GC
1. Mara Abbott Peanut Butter & Co.twenty12 in 9:07:30
2. Alison Powers Team Vera Bradley Foundation at 0:01:05
3. Erinne Willock Webcor Builders at 0:03:01
4. Andrea Dvorak Colavita/baci P/b Cooking Light at 0:03:02
5. Robin Farina Team Vera Bradley Foundation at 0:03:16
6. Meredith Miller Team Tibco at 0:03:17
7. Catherine Cheatley Colavita/baci P/b Cooking Light at 0:03:23
8. Carmen Small Colavita/baci P/b Cooking Light at 0:03:26
9. Katheryn Mattis Webcor Builders at 0:03:31
10. Carla Swart Team Vera Bradley Foundation at 0:04:59