Silver City, New Mexico – Justin Oien of the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team finished sixth and Tao Geoghegan Hart placed 10th and took over the lead in the "best young rider" standings from teammate Neilson Powless in Saturday's criterium at the Tour of the Gila.
The top of the overall standings remained unchanged with one day of the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour event to go. Heading into Sunday's 161-km Gila Monster Road Race, race leader Lachlan Morton (Jelly Belly presented by Maxxis) is 1:06 ahead of Alex Cataford (Silber Pro Cycling) and 1:10 in front of Robert Britton (Rally Cycling).
Geoghegan Hart is Axeon Hagens Berman's best-placed rider in sixth, 2:07 back of Morton. Powless is seventh, at 2:09.
Eric Marcotte (Team Jamis) won Saturday afternoon's 40-lap, 69.5-kilometer race through the downtown streets of Silver City, New Mexico, ahead of Travis McCabe (Holowesko-Citadel presented by Hincapie Sportswear) and Kris Dahl (Silber Pro Cycling).
Oien nearly did not have a chance to contest the finish. With seven laps remaining, another rider ran into his wheel, taking out several spokes. After a trip to the pit for a new Zipp wheel, Oien had to put in a big effort to get back to his place in the front.
"I had disappeared, so the guys were waiting," he said. "When I got back up to them we moved up towards the front and Logan Owen, Will Barta and Geoff Curran took Neilson, Ruben Guerreiro and me into the last two laps. With a lap to go, a rider went into the curb with Neilson and me on his wheel in second and third position and we had to scrub a bunch of speed and then re-accelerate up the climb. Marcotte attacked over us in that time and that was the winning move. I got back in the line and just tried to hold on."
Axeon Sport Director Jeff Louder said Geoghegan Hart unwittingly earned a time bonus during a mid-race sprint, giving him the edge in the best young rider standings. Until that time, Neilson and Geoghegan Hart were both tied on overall time.
"Tao was sprinting for a prime and he didn't know he got the seconds," Louder said.
Louder, who has previously competed himself in the Tour of the Gila, said Sunday's mountainous stage has traditionally been prone to shake up the top of the overall standings.
"It is a really hard day and we have guys who can win the stage and guys who can move into the podium position," he said. "Some of them are the same and some are different. So there are a lot of cards to play and a lot of things have to fall the right away for something to happen. So it will be a wait-and-see situation. But we will race aggressively."
(Photo of Tao Geoghegan Hart by Davey Wilson.)