Stage 2: Pinos Altos – Fort Bayard, NM | 122km
Day 2 of the Tour of the Gila was the Inner Loop Road Race.
While the course is relatively lumpy, this stage is typically a field sprint. We wanted to go all in for the field sprint today and deliver Eric Young. Everything went to plan as Eric made it over the first two KOMs without an issue. A small break of three guys rolled out to 4 minutes and Jamis set up to defend on the front of the group. With Danny Summerhill only 2:07 down on GC riding in the break, Jamis could not afford to let the gap grow too large. Once things settled down we helped Jamis to bring the break back by throwing Jesse Anthony in the chase. Jesse did a fantastic job chasing for over 60 kilometers. Eventually we also added Bjorn Selander to the chase and the break was caught just inside 5k to go.
The Hincapie development team took over the front, but were overtaken shortly after by UHC. With 1.5k to go Zirbel and Candelario overtook UHC, but our train got split up and Eric Young had to rely on Will Routley and Carter Jones to get him back to the front. With 1k to go, Will and Carter took the front and delivered Eric into the final two corners where he was on his own for the final 400 meter uphill headwind sprint. Unfortunately, Eric didn’t have the legs to win from that far out and finished second to Nicolai Brochner from the Bissell development team.
It’s frustrating to come up short when the team has so much power for the leadout. However, field sprinting is always hectic and it’s very hard to keep the leadout in tact when there are 5 other professional teams trying to do the same thing inside the last few kilometers. Hopefully we’ll have another shot at a sprint on Saturday in the criterium.
Photo © Casey Gibson