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James Piccoli wins Stage 1 of the Tour of the Gila

Travis Samuel takes first points jersey and Nicolas Zukowsky wears the young riders jersey

James Piccoli’s fantastic spring continued on the opening stage of the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico. The 27-year-old Montreal-native of rides of Elevate-KHS climbed to the first race leader’s jersey on the 10.8 km Mogollon climb ahead of 42-year-old Spaniard Óscar Sevilla of Team Medellin and Eder Frayre of Team California.

It was a fantastic day all around for Canadians as Travis Samuel (DCBank Pro Cycling) took the points jersey and FLoyd’s Pro Cycling’s Nicolas Zukowsky took the young riders jersey having climbed to sixth place on Mogollon. Piccoli now also holds the KOM jersey.

“When I first came to the Tour of the Gila four years ago I got my face kicked in by the Mogollon finishing climb but dreamed of one day being good enough to win here. Thanks to an unbelievable setup by my Elevate KHS teammates (special shoutout to George Simpson) I put a lot of hard work to use and managed to finish it off. We’re super excited for the rest of the week and will have everything to race for,” Piccoli wrote on Instagram.

Piccoli’s 2019 season got off to an excellent start with a stage win at the Tour de Taiwan followed by second place at the Joe Martin Stage race. His win in Gila continues to build the momentum gained in 2018 after winning the Tour de Beauce.

However, Piccoli and his Elevate-KHS team have their work cut out for them to defend the leader’s jersey with still four stages to race including an individual time trial on Friday and the infamous Gila Monster Road Race on Sunday. Piccoli holds 8 sec on Sevilla and 16 on Frayer. Zukowsky is sixth at 34 sec while Piccoli’s teammate Adam Roberge, the Canadian under-23 ITT champion, sits ninth overall 52 sec back.

Jasmin Duehring (ShoAir-Twenty20) and Sara Bergen (Rally-UHC) both finished in the top-10 of the women’s race behind stage winner Brodie Chapman.