Eric Marcotte, left, and Ulises Soto battle it out at the finish line during the El Tour de Tucson on Saturday. Soto’s winning time was more than eight minutes faster than last year’s champ.

Ulises Soto took a few wrong turns, climbed a few extra steep inclines and even crashed in the wash three or four times, yet still squeezed past Eric Marcotte in the final 10 meters to win his first El Tour de Tucson.

Soto’s time of 3 hours, 47 minutes, 56 seconds was more than 8 minutes faster than last year’s winning time. Saturday’s El Tour was perfect for riding, with cooler temperatures for the morning start and none of the wind that can wreak havoc with finish times. As a result, riders posted faster times across the board.

Even with a detour or two.

“After the river we got confused and there was no one to show the way and we went the wrong way,” said Soto, who finished third last year and was a runner-up in 2016.

Soto said the El Tour course was hard, and the platinum riders dotting the 100-mile race made it even tougher. The Mexican rider made his final push near the finish line, and just as Marcotte started to cramp up.

“I was kind of late. I thought he was going to beat me,” said Soto, who was excited to share his victory with his team of young riders from Mexico who drove 11 hours to get to Tucson.

Betsabee Salomon, another Mexican rider, collected her second women’s title win with a time of 4:04.38. She said this year’s route had “uphills and the river path” as a change from 2017, when she won for the first time. Salomon just edged Anne Donley, who beat her in El Tour de Mesa.

“At first it was a struggle to fight my way in front to get into a good position,” Salomon said.

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