Montreal-native James Piccoli won the 2019 Tour of the Gila on Sunday. The 27-year-old who rides for Elevate-KHS lay the groundwork for his win by taking the opening stage and defended his lead over the final four days that concluded on Sunday with the testing Gila Monster stage. Piccoli’s win follows Canadian Rob Britton’s 2018 triumph. Nicolas Zukowsky (Floyd’s Pro Cycling) made it two Canadians on the final podium finishing third and taking the best young riders jersey at the UCI 2.2 stage race.
Oscar Sevilla (Team Medellin), a 42-year-old veteran who was implicated in Operacion Puerto over ten years ago, finished in second 46 seconds behind Piccoli. The pair placed one-two on the races opening stage which finished on the Mogollon climb. Stage 5 was won by Sevilla’s teammate Cristhian Montoya.
“It’s a little bit surreal to be honest. Even though we were in the leader’s jersey, this stage is so hard,” Piccoli said after sealing the overall win. “I’ve said this week it’s the hardest stage in North American bike racing and that’s true. It’s really hard to count your chickens before the stage is over and you cross the line.”
Piccoli would cross the line in sixth, 15 sec back on the stage winner but the race lead was never in doubt as Piccoli and his Elevate-KHS teammates marked the dangerous moves. Zukowsky, surrounded by his Floyd’s Pro Cycling teammates crossed the line in tenth.
In 2019, Piccoli has already won a stage and finished second at the Tour of Taiwan and finished second at the Joe Martin Stage Race. The 2018 season was his breakthrough as he took a huge victory at the Tour de Beauce.
“There were a couple of moments today when there was some pressure so to cross the line and have the overall victory at the Tour of the Gila is really, really special,” Piccoli said about winning the 2019 edition of the race.
Canadians across the board had a fantastic race. Zukowsky finished second on Stage 2 behind his Floyd’s Pro Cycling teammate Travis McCabe. Piccoli’s teammate and U23 Canadian ITT champion Adam Roberge was second on Stage 3’s ITT behind Floyd’s Pro Cycling’s Serghei Țvetcov.
In the women’s race, Brodie Chapman (Tibco-SVB) took the overall victory and Canadian Jamin Duehring (ShoAir-Twenty20) finished third. Sara Bergen (Rally-UHC) was also in the top-10 with a seventh-place finish. Duehring secured he podium place with second on Stage 2 and then fourth in the ITT