Mara Abbott (UHC) came out swinging today with a dominating ascent of El Boqueron, a 14k climb with an average gradient of 10% and several pitches that were greater than 20%. Abbott crossed the line of the mountaintop finish 2 minutes and 49 seconds ahead of the closest rider, Alena Amialiusik of Astana. The result moves Abbott to the top of the General Classification, with an advantage of 2:18 over Amialiusik heading into tomorrow’s final, mostly downhill stage.
Sensing that they might have trouble from Abbott on the steep climb, RusVelo pinned it from the gun. The pace touched 60kph for the first 15k on the slight -1% downhill grade and the peloton strung out into a line along the wide open Salvadorian highway. But the terrain wasn’t suitable to create a gap and RusVelo’s drive only succeeded in delivering Abbott to the base of the climb faster.
As the road started to go up, UHC kept the pace high and put more pressure on the yellow jersey, RusVelo’s Olga Zabelinskaya. When UHC’s flat-landers were spent and spit out the back, rookie climber Katie Hall launched an attack, forcing a RusVelo rider to chase while Abbott sat in behind, waiting. Hall was eventually pulled back, triggering UHC to fire their final strategic missile; Sharon Laws. Laws, who went into the stage in 3rd place overall, pinned it and went up the road for a few minutes, far enough to lose sight of the group between the winding turns. When Laws blew, Abbott took over.
The climb was perfectly suited to Abbott’s strengths— the steeper the better—and the gap opened quickly as she pedaled up the mountain.
“It’s so exciting to race a course like this.” she said after she crossed the line, “It’s no secret that I love mountainous climbs and this is one of the best ones that I’ve ever seen. It’s great to get to be here with such a strong team and feel so supported in this kind of a victory. I’m excited to get to race one more day together tomorrow.”
Tomorrow’s stage is 83k, mostly rolling downhill and shouldn’t have an effect on the General Classification. That said, the sprinters that have been suffering over these Salvadorian mountains are chomping at the bit to have a go, so we can expect an exciting finale.
View full results here.