Eric Young (Rally Cycling) sprinted to his third win at Fort Bayard Thursday at Tour of the Gila.
The 28-year-old also claimed stage 2 victory in 2015 and 2012.
Last year’s winner Travis McCabe (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling) finished second and José Aguirre Infante (Canel’s Specialized) took third after 122km of undulating terrain through the Gila wilderness.
“UnitedHealthcare did a great job controlling the race, they’ve got that lead out dialed, obviously,” Young said. “But my guys also did awesome. We wanted to go into the time trial with as many guys up on GC as possible. The priority is to keep the overall intact. But coming into the finish, Adam De Vos did a huge effort in the last 500 meters to get me where I needed to be. My legs felt good and it all worked out.”
Matteo Dal-Cin (Rally Cycling) remains in the leaders jersey heading into tomorrow’s time trial. McCabe’s finish bumped him up to second place overall thanks to bonus seconds available on the line. His teammate Daniel Jaramillo sits in third place, 12 seconds down.
“My team rode amazing,” Dal-Cin said. “They kept all the dangerous breaks under control and saved our sprinters and time trialers. You can’t ask for much more, we had a perfect day.”
With a valuable bonus sprint waiting less than 10km into the stage, the race was fast from the start. Max points went to Nick Torraca (Elevate-KHS) followed by Mike Hernandez (Aevolo) and Taylor Shelden (Jelly Belly).
Almost straight after the sprint, the peloton began the first of three category 3 KOM Pinos Altos climb. Despite multiple riders trying to get a break going, no one escaped until around 50km in, when Francisco Mancebo (Canyon Bicycles) attacked on the descent taking Lachlan Norris (UHC), Stephen Bassett (Silber) and Mike Rice (Axeon) along with him.
Content to let the break stretch out a little time, Rally sat back and let the trio gain around a minute. However, the pace proved too much for Mancebo, Bassett and Rice. They lost contact with Norris and fell back into the bunch with less than 40 km left in the stage.
Norris kept fighting, but eventually got caught with 10km to go as the sprinter trains started to form.
On the last turn toward Fort Bayard, Young was in prime position with 500 meters to go and won by a just a few meters ahead of McCabe, who starts tomorrow in the sprint jersey. Bassett will wear the best young rider jersey. Racing Gila for the first time this year, Bayron Guamá of Movistar Team Ecuador will wear the KOM jersey.
“We won the KOM [points] today and are happy for that,” Guamá said at the finish. “Unfortunately, we were unable to be at the sprint but I think that every day we are feeling better and more confident. So, we just need to wait for tomorrow and the next day. We will try to fight until the finish. We know its hard and there are riders who are very strong but we will fight until the end.”
Tomorrow’s stage is a 16mi/26km out and back time trial starting in the village of Tyrone. The UCI women follow the men, who start at 9:15am MDT.
Canadian Lex Albrecht took top honors at stage 2 of the Tour of the Gila after an early sprint from breakaway companion Tayler Wiles (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling) proved unsuccessful.
The TIBCO rider took advantage of Wiles’ waning speed to win by inches at the finish in historic Fort Bayard. Scotti Lechuga (Hagens Berman Supermint) rounded out the podium in third.
“I spent some of my last matches trying to hang on to that break,” Albrecht said. “It was pretty windy so I wasn’t sure if we were going to stay away, but in the last 500 meters, Tayler threw out her final attack and I followed. In the last 50 meters I stomped on the pedals and got my first victory at Gila. That’s pretty cool for me, especially on a sprinting stage.”
The 76-mile (122km) stage, held on the same loop as the UCI men’s race, saw much of the day dominated by UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, working to protect their race leader, Katie Hall. The blue team didn’t let any break get up the road and kept the pace high, which eventually popped more than half the field off the back.
With 25km to go, Lauretta Hanson (UHC), Julie Emmerman (Amy D Foundation), Jamie Gilgen (Rise Racing) and Lindsey Bayer (Supermint Hagens Berman) pulled away for a few kilometers, but inevitably went back to the bunch due to the pace set by UnitedHealthcare.
Ruth Winder, Hall and Wiles took turns laying down vicious attacks to wear down the remaining riders and at 10 km to go, Wiles broke away. Lechuga was the only rider who could stay with her before Albrecht bridged across.
“Today was really good,” Wiles said. “We had our ‘sprinty, climby’ riders work their butts off pacing it up and over the climb. Katie, Ruth and I took turns attacking – my dad calls us the three-headed monster. That paid off today, because I eventually got off the front with Scotti and Lex. Lex sat on the whole time while Scotti and I worked really hard. In the last km we were slowing down and I was getting nervous, so I went for the sprint early. Unfortunately couldn’t get the win, but our team has the leader, best young rider and sprint jersey so I’m happy.”
“We had the most aggressive team today, my teammates put me in a great position to podium, “Lechuga said. “In the end, Tayler Wiles put in quite an attack and I held on for dear life.”
After stage 2, Wiles is also leading the sprint classification and her teammate, Winder, is in the best young rider jersey. Melinda McCutcheon (Visit Dallas DNA) will wear the QOM jersey.
Tomorrow’s stage is a 16.4 mile (26km) out and back time trial starting in the small village of Tyrone. UCI men set off at 9:15 a.m. MDT and the women will follow.
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