The Colavita/Baci Women’s team blew away the field in one of the windiest stages on record at the SRAM Tour of the Gila. Teammates Carmen Small took the stage win, Andrea Dvorak was second and Cath Cheatley third. This time, Luis Amaran of Jamis/Sutter Home timed his move perfectly to win stage 2 ahead of Levi Leipheimer (Mellow Johnny’s) and Kyle Wamsley (BISSELL).
Both Mara Abbott (Peanut Butter Co TWENTY12) and Leipheimer retained their GC lead.
The riders faced tremendous winds at stage 2 of the SRAM Tour of the Gila all kind of wins, , head-, cross-, tailwinds, sometimes all the same time with gusts around 60 mph on the return trip to the finish in Fort Bayard. Riders were blown off the bike or forced to go sideways by the sheer force of the wind, some even chose to walk up the final climb after the second feedzone.
Amaran times it to perfection. In yesterday’s stage, Amaran was admittedly impatient and attacked a bit too early on the final climb and faded back to finish sixth, well not today. Crosswinds created the first selection which brought the field to around 70 riders in the first twelve miles of the 80 miles (128.7km) Ft Bayard Inner Loop stage. Adding to the punishment from the wind, Mellow Johnny’s and DZ Nuts riders set a high pace at the front shredding the field.
More crosswinds greeted the peloton as it made the right turn back toward the finish with four miles to go, putting everyone in the gutter. At that point, the whole BISSELL team came to the front setting a high pace working to set up Wamsley for the win. With one kilometer to go, Leipheimer attacked. Amaran responded, caught and passed the red jersey wearer and made his way to the finish line for the win. At the final turn, Wamsley attacked just before a cattle guard to finish third at five seconds back.
This is the third year in a row that Jamis/Sutter Home and prior to that Colavita/Sutter Home has won the second stage at the Tour of the Gila.
Amaran is the new sprint leader. Andrew Talansky (CalGiant) finished in the main field sixteen seconds behind Amaran and retained the lead in the U25 classification.
Colavita/Baci goes 1-2-3. Wanting to make the Peanut Butter Co TWENTY12 team give chase, Team VBF attacked early on in the 77.9 miles (125.4km) Ft Bayard Inner Loop. By mile 7, Robin Farina was off the front with a gap of 20 seconds. The peloton was already feeling the brutal effect of the winds which only got stronger as the women started later than the men. Riders were being shelled from the peloton in ones and twos. It didn’t take long for Dvorak to bridge up to make two off the front. Riders tried to bridge up to no avail and by mile 20, the duo had a gap of 1:30 to the main field which has splintered into two groups. In the first group was GC leader Abbott in her red jersey with her Peanut Butter Co TWENTY12 teammates.
The strategy to isolate Abbott seemed to be working as her teammates Kat Carroll, Alisha Welsh and Olivia Dillon of Peanut Butter Co TWENTY12 were dropped on the first climb. But the trio made its way back to the main group on the mesa to bring fire power to the chase.
Fifteen miles later, three riders had bridged up to the break. Joining were Small and Alison Powers and Alexi Rhodes both of Team VBF. The break worked hard with almost everyone pulling through except for Small who was ordered to sit in after some time. By the time the riders hit the final climb back to Ft Bayard, the winds were forcing riders to either go sideways across the road or fall off their bikes. Some riders chose to walk up.
The gap was coming down, close to thirty seconds when Dvorak attacked the break solo. With 11 miles to go, she had established a gap of 30 seconds to a chase duo of Powers and Small. Small powered away from Powers and bridged up to her teammate. The pair put their heads down, battled the wind and had a gap of over two minutes by the time they made it to the finish line together. Small crossed first for the stage win. Cheatley won the sprint for third place.
Small is the new leader in the sprint competition and will wear the green jersey. Abbott also still leads the U26 classification.
The race continues on Friday with the Dan Potts Memorial Tyrone Time Trial. Riders face two climbs in an out and back 16.15-mile course and 1000 feet (305 m) of climbing. The course consists of all ascent or descent with very little flat ground. Last year, Leipheimer set not only the fastest time but a new course record at 32:59, fourteen seconds faster than the previous record. As for the wind, the forecast calls for 25 to 30 mph. winds and a high of 55 as temperatures cool down. TT start times were not posted at this time.
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Stage 2 Results – Pro/1 Men
1. Luis Amaran (Jamis Sutter Home)
2. Levi Leipheimer (Team Mellow Johnny’s)
3. Kyle Wamsley (BISSELL)
Pro Men GC after stage 2
1. Levi Leipheimer (Team Mellow Johnny’s)
Stage 2 Results – Pro/1/2 Women
1. Carmen Small (Colavita/Baci p/b CookingLight)
2. Andrea Dvorak (Colavita/Baci p/b CookingLight)
3. Catherine Cheatley (Colavita/Baci p/b CookingLight)
Pro Women GC after stage 2
1.Mara Abbott (Peanut Butter Co TWENTY12)