Bisbee, Ariz. - Team Type 1's Darren Lill captured the La Vuelta de Bisbee Sunday in thrilling fashion, overcoming a 30-second deficit on the final stage.
Following his third place in Friday night's prologue, Lill won Saturday morning's 82-mile (131 km) Sulphur Springs Road Race. But a fifth-place finish in that afternoon's 7.2-mile (11.5 km) Warren Time Trial dropped him into second behind Phil Zajicek (Fly V Australia) heading into the last race of the three-day event, the 84.4-mile (135 km) Tombstone Road Race.
"I thought it was still possible to win," Lill said. "It was just a matter of isolating or getting the jump on Zajicek. I was surprised he didn't watch me more or didn't come with me when I went."
Lill made his move by bridging up to a small group that contained Team Type 1 teammate Moises Aldape and older brother, Antonio Aldape, who was joined by two of his Tecos-Trek teammates. With fresh horsepower, the reinforced break enjoyed a 90-second lead at the foot of 5,930-foot Mule Pass leading back toward Bisbee. And as the road climbed up, Lill put the hammer down.
"Three attacks were enough to drop everyone except for Bernardo Colex (Tecos-Trek)," Team Type 1 Assistant Director Gord Fraser said. "With Zajicek still chasing hard from behind, we had Darren ride a hard tempo and perhaps sacrifice the stage win to make sure he had enough of an advantage to take the overall."
Colex won the stage four seconds ahead of Lill while Zajicek rolled across the finish line alone in fifth place, 55 seconds behind. With a 10-second time bonus earned for his runner-up finish, Lill took the overall title with a 30-second cushion and also earned the race's King of the Mountain crown. Colex finished third overall, 39 seconds back.
Lill said it was good to get back on the top step of the podium after a string of second and third-place finishes in stage races the past few years. His victory was the 11th of the year by the Team Type 1 men's professional squad.
"I'm hoping to come out of this race in even better form for the Tour of the Gila later this week," the 26-year-old South African said. "There will be even more climbing and more competition in that race. We really came together as a team here and got some good cohesion. I think things are really on the upturn for us."
Lill's accomplishment caps an impressive weekend of results for a number of Team Type 1's programs. Jen McRae scored a pair of third-place finishes for the women's team at the USA CRITS Speed Week series, Alison Powers won Sunday's Haystack Mountain Time Trial in Boulder, Colo., and Elite team rider Alex Bowden sprinted to a win at the Midwest Collegiate Cycling Championship Criterium Sunday in Columbus, Ohio.
photos copyright Alan Fischer