Three and a half years after taking Vuelta stage win, Deignan returns to winning form in Tour of Gila
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Monday, May 06, 2013

Three and a half years after taking Vuelta stage win, Deignan returns to winning form in Tour of Gila

by VeloNation Press at 5:42 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Overall success a valuable confidence boost for Irish UnitedHealthcare rider

Philip DeignanThree and a half years after he won a stage and placed ninth overall in the 2009 Vuelta a España, Philip Deignan showed the clearest signs yet of a return to top form when he won the overall classification in Silver City's Tour of the Gila yesterday.

The Irishman UnitedHealthare rider started off solidly when he was fourth on Wednesday’s hilly opening stage. He then pulled out a solid fifth place finish in Friday’s time trial, moving up to third overall. Deignan was sitting 21 seconds behind Janier Alexis Acevedo Colle (Jamis-Hagens Berman) heading into yesterday’s final Gila Monster stage, and seventeen behind Chris Baldwin (Bissell Pro Cycling).

“The general plan was to be super aggressive,” Deignan said about the team’s tactics going into that concluding leg. “We knew we had eight strong guys here and we going to try and isolate the jersey pretty early on and make his team work hard, so we were super aggressive from the start.”

Deignan attacked prior to the final climb and had a half-minute lead over a strong chasing group. He was reeled in but his and his team’s aggression during the stage wore out the race leader Acevedo and he cracked. Francisco Mancebo (5-hour Energy/Kenda) attacked for the stage win and was accompanied by Deignan, who started taking the time he needed to grab the overall.

The Irishman crossed the line third on the stage, eighteen seconds behind Mancebo, and won the overall standings by 28 seconds over Phil Gaimon (Bissell Pro Cycling). He also took the mountains classification in the race.

For a rider who has faced injury and illness issues since that strong Vuelta ride in 2009, returning to the top of the podium is an invaluable confidence boost. “It’s been a few years since I’ve won a race. I had a lot of problems last year, so it’s good to be back to my normal level,” Deignan said.

It puts him in a good position heading into his first big goal of the season, the Tour of California. “I know what I can do. Our team performance here at Gila was very strong and it is perfect timing heading into California. It’ll be good for the confidence. Everybody’s been so strong. We’ve had a different guy on the podium every day and it just shows we have such strength and depth. We’ve always had a plan every day and we’ve always executed it. We’re on a good path heading into California.”

General manager and team director, Mike Tamayo echoes that. “The goal for the week was to win the GC and we got into a good streak of podiums right away. I told the boys I wanted five guys on the podium. We had a different guy on the podium every day and Phil gets the top step of the best podium as the winner of Gila.”

He’s clear that the win will have a big effect on the team. “Confidence. A lot of confidence. We’re not chasing the overall at Tour of California, but we’re confident. We’ve had a lot of podiums and we’ve had a lot of wins lately.”

Deignan will hope to continue that strong run in California, which begins in six days’ time.

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