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by Shane Stokes
April 4, 2017
Photography by Kristof Ramon
In today’s edition of the Daily News Digest: Matthews wins Stage 1 of Vuelta al Pais Vasco; D’Hoore takes Grand Prix de Dottignies; Uncertainty over Vanmarcke’s Roubaix participation; Phinney could be back for Paris-Roubaix; No major issues for Sagan after Flanders crash, video clarifies how fall happened; Cancellara calls Sagan position on Kwaremont a mistake; Ferrari handed 18-month prison sentence, will appeal; Greipel sets sights on Scheldeprijs; Tour of the Battenkill adds UCI event for 2017; No uphill Mogollon finish for Tour of the Gila this year; Title sponsor of Wellens-managed Steylaerts-Verona team extends for two years; 2017 Women’s Ronde van Vlaanderen Highlights; 2017 UCI Women’s WorldTour: Focus on Chantal Blaak
For the first time in the history of the Tour of the Gila, the opening stage will have a flat finish on Whitewater Mesa with no King or Queen of the Mountain points or jerseys awarded, due to construction on the traditional iconic to the historic town of Mogollon, negatively affecting road conditions leading up the final climb.
“This is the first time in our history that we have had to alter the route,” said race Director Jack Brennan. “We lost 2.9 miles of climbing which is the iconic part of Mogollon. It’s so incredible and beautiful up there but we don’t have it this year. It’s going to change the whole dynamics of the race.”
Since the race’s inception, the first stage of the 5-day race has finished up a 6.7-mile climb that peaks at a 19-percent gradient en route to Mogollon. The town was flooded in September of 2013, completely wiping out the roads leading into town. While a few repairs were done to open the roads, the needed infrastructure was placed on hold. Several months ago, construction began with substantial repairs to the road.
Because of the flat finish, sprint points and bonus seconds will be awarded. The uphill finish typically offered the general classification contenders their first chance to establish time gaps ahead of the time trial. Without it, there will be a fight for every second until the final climb to Pinos Altos on Stage 5.
“Once the infrastructure work is done, then the road will be taken back up to suitable standards,” Brennan said. “Trucks can certainly go up there but a lot of potholes are being created, and the road where there is asphalt, is being damaged so all of those things have to be repaired. I expect to be back up there next year.”