Without the winds from previous year on the Inner Loop Road Race, stage of the Tour of the Gila, a bunch sprint was (almost) inevitable. Though the remnants of the very early break, initiated at the end of the neutral section, raised a question in our minds, the pack was back together as they barreled down to Fort Bayard. With 3 km to go, the BISSELL train took over the front and delivered a perfect leadout for their sprinter Frank Pipp who took it to the line for the win.
Anibal Borrajo (Jamis/Sutter Home) was second and GC leader Francisco Mancebo (RealCyclist.com) took third.
More photos in gallery.
Mancebo increased his GC lead by four seconds over Tyler Wren (Jamis/Sutter Home) with the bonus seconds at the finish line. He also leads the KOM competiton. Pipp takes over the green sprint jersey while Joe Dombrowski (Trek-Livestrong) retained his white jersey for leading the U25 competition.
The attacks started as soon as the neutral section ended and quickly five riders were off the front. Ian Holt (Rio Grande), Joe Lewis (Trek-Livestrong), Mike Northey (PureBlack Racing), Evan Hyde (RealCyclist.com) and Jay Thomson (BISSELL) were off. The five were quickly joined by Marsh Cooper (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) and Danny Summerhill (Chipotle Development Team) and they were off. The riders worked well together with Hyde sitting on and the gap grew to over one minute by the first KOM 12 miles into the 80-mile stage.
The gap increased and was held steady at two minutes which was fine for Mancebo as closest on GC was Holt at 2:34 down. Lewis took both of the sprint points while Thomson went for the two KOMs.
With 18 miles to go, Holt dropped back as the gap decreased. After recovering from a bout of stomach issues the day prior and with good legs, Thomson was not willing to sit up and attacked on the long climb to the second KOM. Three riders followed, Cooper, Northey and Lewis stayed with Thomson as they give it one last chance to make it to the line. But it wasn’t to happen with too many teams wanting a bunch sprint.
A few counter-attacks when the last rider off the front, Thomson, was caught but nothing stuck. Jamis/Sutter Home put the team at the front with 6 miles to go and then BISSELL took over. Chris Baldwin and Jeremy Vennell upped the pace at the front with less than two miles and Pipp on his teammates Ben Jacques-Maynes‘ wheel moved up behind them just before the right hand turn off the highway. Seeing that riders were coming up on his right, Pipp who is sporting his version of a playoff beard, opened up his sprint with 300 meters to go and held it to the line.
The race continues on Thursday with the 16.15 miles (26km) time trial with 1000 feet (305 m) of climbing where strong winds with gusts around 50 mph are forecasted. The conditions should benefit the stronger TTer versus the climbers. The fastest time last year, set by Jesse Sergent, was 34:09.
Frank Pipp (BISSELL Pro Cycling). “Absolutely a full team effort. Everybody did the job. [The final sprint] wasn’t hectic because RealCyclist closed down the last of the gaps and there was a few attacks and then they continued to ride, even Mancebo was at the front for a bit to try to make sure that guys didn’t go away. Chris and Jeremy got to the front and I followed Ben behind them, and it was the four of us as we turned right off the highway. Chris took over and then Ben led me out. I went earlier than I wanted to because, on the right, I could see some guys coming up on my right and I knew if I wanted I’d get pinned. I jumped early and fortunately good enough legs. ”
About the beard. “It’s my BISSELL beard. I said I was growing a beard until California or a win so maybe I’ll have shave it. I’ll have to consult the BISSELL team and see what the consensus is. ”
About defending the green jersey. “We’ll see what BISSELL wants to do in the crit. Every day is a new day, one day at a time. Today, if the wind would have materialized, we could do more on GC damage potentially and we have a strong team to do it but it wasn’t windy, and it was a relatively easy day, just a steady tempo the whole day set by a couple of team. So we decided we’re going for the stage win. Tomorrow, the time trial everybody just goes. The crit, probably not going to change anything most likely, that’s more of a stage win and the big day is Sunday.”
About his knee (injury last year). “Oh yeah, it’s been great. BISSELL has been awesome with the problems I had last year, they let me recover from that , it took a while and fortunately I’m back and feeling good and I can repay them for it.”
Anibal Borrajo (Jamis/Sutter Home). “One guy from Trek-Livestrong attacked and BISSELL did the perfect leadout for Frank Pipp, it wasn’t for me the plan to sprint today. I was leadout for my brother Alejandro but he missed my wheel. Frank Pipp did a wonderful sprint, he sprinted like 300 meters from the finish line, I couldn’t beat him.”
About chasing the break. “We put some guy to bring back the breakaway, Fly V put some guys and RealCyclist worked the whole stage and we knew that we had good card for the sprint but we were close.”
Jay Thomson (BISSELL). “I’ll be honest going up the last climb, when the break split and there were a couple of guys, I thought that we might have a chance.”
About the break. “The guys attacked pretty much straight off the line. Joe Lewis from Trek-Livestrong and I thought yesterday were millions of attacks so I might as well follow. The next thing I look back and we had a bit of a gap and I thought ‘oh well feeling a bit better today, let’s see if we can get something out of it’ Obviously we worked together pretty well with the RealCyclist guy, he sat on for most of the way but understandable if you have the leader’s jersey, you’re not going to ride with the group. Coming up the last climb, I thought I’d give it a go, got over the top with about 15 seconds over 3 chasers, and I sat up and we tried to work pretty good together but when you have a chasing bunch that wants a bunch sprint . It worked out perfect for us with Frank winning so I’m ecstatic.”
About going for the KOM points. “I saw the first climb that everybody was not really riding the climbs, they looked like they were really hurting and I was going pretty easy so I thought today let’s go for a few points and we can close on the jersey and maybe wear it for a day, I’d be happy.”
About going for KOM jersey. “Chris is obviously our GC guy and I’m going to sell out everything on Sunday for him, everything else that we get along the way is a bonus. Stage wins and the GC are obviously number one for us, we’ve come here with guys in good form and we want to get everything out of this as we can.”
Gord Fraser, DS (RealCyclist.com). “My plan was to keep it under two minutes because we’re fine with the yellow jersey because the best guy was 2:34 on GC and if we keep in that range, it’s bound to attract some other teams to help out. And sure enough, Henk [Vogels], he races to win, Fly V missed the move and he does the right thing, he takes responsibility and races his bike correctly and his team is a reflection of that. Wished one of us could have won, either Fly V or RealCyclist but this is the way it goes sometimes. Paco getting third in the stage is great, he was vigilant. He was mostly staying out of trouble and getting third in the stage, why not? Get a few more seconds, you never know when those will come in handy. And it just shows that he’s paying attention, he’s not going to let this thing slip through his fingers by inattentiveness so good job by those guys. The guys rode well, the young guys another day under their belt defending the yellow jersey, so I’m pretty happy.”
About the next stage. “Ben Day is within shouting distance in that time trial. Hopefully we can still have the jersey after the TT. The way Paco is going, I wouldn’t bet against it but there are some good time trialists right behind so we’ll see what shakes free.”
Top 3 Stage 2 Results
1. Frank Pipp (BISSELL Pro Cycling) 3:11:26
2. Anibal Borrajo (Jamis/Sutter Home) st
3. Francisco Mancebo (Realcyclist.com Cycling Team)
4. Alexander Howes (Chipotle Development Team)
5. Cole House (Realcyclist.com Cycling Team)
6. Michael Freiberg (V Australia Pro Cycling)
7. John Walker (V Australia Pro Cycling)
8. Jason Donald (KBS-Optumhealth)
9. Roman Van Uden (Pure Black Racing)
10. Ben Day (Kenda/5-Hour Energy Pro Cycling)
GC After Stage 2
1. Francisco Mancebo (Realcyclist.com Cycling Team) 7:10:44
2. Tyler Wren (Jamis Sutter Home p/b Colavita) 0:00:18
3. Joe Dombrowski (Trek-Livestrong) 0:00:39
4. Alexander Howes (Chipotle Development Team) 0:00:44
5. George Bennett (Trek-Livestrong) 0:00:44
6. Chris Baldwin (BISSELL Pro Cycling) 0:00:46
7. Ben Day (Kenda/5-Hour Energy Pro Cycling) 0:00:47
8. Lachlan Morton (Chipotle Development Team) 0:00:54
9. Matt Cooke (Team Exergy) 0:00:58
10. Cesar Grajales (Realcyclist.com Cycling Team) 0:01:03