Tucson Bicycle Classic: Canadian captures pro women's title

2013-03-18T00:00:00Z Tucson Bicycle Classic: Canadian captures pro women's titleDaniel Gaona Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 18, 2013 12:00 am  • 

A few weeks ago, Canadian cyclist Leah Kirchmann was getting ready to come to Tucson for only the second time in her life.

In her first visit last March, the 22-year-old won the second annual Old Pueblo Grand Prix criterium, and she was returning to Southern Arizona to ride in it again, last weekend.

Just before she made the trip from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Kirchmann found out about the 27th annual Tucson Bicycle Classic - a three-day USA Cycling stage race labeled as Tucson's mini Tour de France - and she decided to stick around an extra week to ride in it.

The decision paid off.

Kirchmann won the pro women's category of the TBC presented by Brian McQuiston and Farmers Insurance on Sunday morning, for her second victory in eight days and her third win in three races in Tucson.

Mexico's Hector Rangel won the men's overall title.

"Tucson has been good to me," said Kirchmann, who won the Old Pueblo Grand Prix for the second straight year last weekend.

"I wanted to stay somewhere warm and train and my plan was to go back to California, but I thought if there was a race going on, I might as well stay here to enjoy the warm weather and do it.

"The more racing, the better."

The TBC featured about 550 cyclists, racing in 27 different categories, from age 9 to 79. While the overall numbers were down from last year, race director Caroline Leonard said this was the largest professional field with 98 combined men and women.

The final day featured a circuit race that started and ended on Greasewood Road near the Pima College West Campus. The 5.6-mile course went south on Greasewood and took a right turn at Anklam Road, which the cyclists rode to Speedway, before they came back to Greasewood. The pro women's event consisted of seven laps, while the pro men did nine laps.

Kirchmann came into the final day with the lead and preserved it by earning 13 seconds in time bonuses to finish the final stage in 1 hour 50 minutes 47 seconds. Her overall time was 4:48.35.

"I think I'll definitely be back for the future races," she said.

In the pro men's category, Rangel entered Sunday with a seven-second overall lead and edged Tucsonan Travis McCabe by one second for his first win in the event with a time of 5:21.0.

Rangel, of Saltillo, Coahuila, credited his team, P&S Specialized, from Hermosillo, Sonora, for sticking together to help him hold the lead all three days.

"It's a difficult race and the last stage is tough for the team, but we worked better together and won," said Rangel, who was the overall runner-up last year. "It's not important by how much you win but if you win."

McCabe, 23, finished second in the circuit race, also by one second, behind Rafael Meran of New York. But he was one of the only solo riders who didn't have a team to work with, so he was happy with the result - improving on last year's fifth-place finish when he rode it for the first time.

"I was really isolated out there, and being able to compete against these guys and still finish in the front and be one second from winning is a good feeling," said McCabe, who earned nine seconds in time bonuses.

"It would have been nice to win," he added. "Had I raced a little smarter (Saturday), I could have got a couple more time bonuses and that might have secured the win."

Contact reporter Daniel Gaona at dgaona@azstarnet.com or 807-7761. On Twitter @DanielGaona13

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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