What a way to celebrate America's Independence Day - Mara Abbott, riding for the U.S. National Team, won both the day's fifth stage and took over the general classification lead.
Mara Abbott on her way to victory in the early
season San Dimas Stage Race (author photo)
Abbott, the 2010 Giro champion, started the day in 10th overall, two minutes five seconds behind Marianne Vos. Approaching the day's main obstacle, the climb of Monte Beigua, Abbot was in the bunch, but attacked with fellow American, Evelyn Stevens, who started the stage at 4th on g.c. Stevens was unable to match the wicked pace set by Abbott and was dropped about two kilometers into the climb. Abbott kept the pressure on and crossed the line with a 1:44 advantage over second placed Francesca Cauz. The win gives her a 1:27 general classification advantage over Tatiana Guderzo, and 1:34 over Fabiana Luperini. Previous Pink Jersey wearer, Marianne Vos, faltered after a couple hard days of racing and finished the stage in 15th, 5:15 back of the victor; as a result she slipped to 7th on g.c., 3:20 behind Abbott.
As for some of the other Americans in the race, Evelyn Stevens finished 10th on the day, while Megan Guarnier came in 14th. Stevens remains highly placed in the hunt for overall placings at 8th, 3:35 back. Following the stage Abbott had praise for her teammates and predicted they will continue to give maximum effort in order to defend the Pink Jersey: "I'm going to try to protect this lead with the help of my teammates. They have been great so far. They've done everything that's been asked of them. I have confidence they will continue to give everything until the end."
Another mountain finish awaits the racers tomorrow - the category one climb to San Domenico, the summit of which will be reached following 121 km of racing.