Katie Hall Takes Mountaintop Victory in Stage 5 of Tour Femenino de San Luis
The women of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team took on 63 hilly kilometers on stage 5 of the 2015 Tour Femenino de San Luis and with a 5-kilometer ascent leading to the mountaintop finish, it was clear the stage would go to a climber. After taking victory in stage 1, stage 2, and the Grand Prix preceding the 6-stage tour, the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team decided to ride aggressively and put their efforts towards another stage win. An early breakaway escaped the peloton in the first 10 kilometers of the day, but with a motivated peloton chasing and strong headwinds, the group of eight riders was only able to build an advantage of 1:30 before they began to get pulled back. As the breakaway’s advantage began to dwindle, sporting director Rachel Heal instructed all-rounder and impressive climber Katie Hall to attack, taking rival rider Janilda Fernandez and several others with her off the front.
The two worked hard at the front of the small group, reducing it to only four riders by the final 5 kilometers. Hall lifted the pace once more, with only Fernandez able to follow. In the final meters, Hall attacked repeatedly, eager for the chance to claim her first international victory. Hernandez fought back bravely, never losing contact. As the finish line neared, Katie Hall launched a final sprint, proving to be the strongest rider on the day and raising her arms in victory at the line. Elated by her first high-profile international victory, Hall was sure to thank her team, saying, “We had a really good plan for the day to make a break happen, I’m really thankful to my teammates for having the trust in me to bring it home.” Sporting director Rachel Heal concluded, “I’m really proud of the way the whole team rode today. Katie rode with strength and tactical savvy that shows just how far she’s come in the last year.” This is the first of many victories to come from the up-and-coming Katie Hall, who is now in the possession of the climber’s jersey after stage 5. The women of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team will contest the 6th and final stage of the Tour Femenino de San Luis on January 16th, with Hannah Barnes also defending the best young rider jersey.