White is nice but red is even better. Sitting in 8th overall on GC, Tayler Wiles (Exergy Twenty12) leads the best young rider classification two stages into the SRAM Tour of the Gila with over a minute lead on her closest competition. Though she admits that she definitely wants to keep the white jersey, the first order of business is defending the red leader’s jersey on her teammate Kristin Armstrong‘s shoulder.
“If it works out that I get to keep it throughout the stage race based on opportunities or whatever, I would love to, I’ll fight for it but definitely keeping Kristin in the leader’s jersey is priority number one.” Wiles told podiuminsight after stage 2.
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Wiles had to work hard on the 77.9 miles (125.4km) Inner Loop Road race, when only three of the team made the front group, of 20 riders, after the field split about 10 miles into the second stage on the first Queen of the Mountain (QOM) climb. After a fast descent, the pace was “fairly mellow” on the second climb. And then, the attacks started.
“They were attacking towards the top of the climb, before the descent because (Alison) Powers and Olivia (DIllon) can bomb descents pretty dang good.” Wiles continued. At the bottom of the descent, Alison Powers (NOW and Novartis for MS) and Lindsay Myers (TIBCO) established a break. “We controlled that a little bit and then all of a sudden, Optum started firing left and right. Eventually we caught Powers and Myers and then Optum and Now took turns attacking.”
Another duo escaped, this time it was US National Road Champion Robin Farina (NOW and Novartis for MS) and Courteney Lowe (Optum-KBS).
“Me, Andrea and Kristin sat at the front and kept it around a minute and then going up the last climb, we eventually caught that group. Then, lots of attacks went off, Kristin got off with a group of five.”
Ultimately, Armstrong took the win in a 2-up sprint ahead of Janel Holcomb (Optum-KBS). That made it two stage victories in a row for Armstrong.
Meanwhile, Wiles defended her white jersey with her closest competitor, Myers close by. “I was in the group behind the small group in front, just fighting to stay with it, I was pretty tired from all the work we’d done at the front but I just trying to stay in the white jersey as best as I could.”
Three stages remain, starting with the 16.15 miles time trial on Friday.
“It’s going to be a really tough time trial but it’s a good , I think I’ll go out and do my best. I love time trials, it’s something that I enjoy. It’s great to have Kristin on the team as far as time trialing goes.” smiled Wiles. “I think tomorrow will be a good day for the team all around.”
Then the criterium on Saturday followed by the Queen Stage, the Gila Monster on Sunday. “That one is going to be a tough one. It always blows to pieces on that race. Climbing have been legs so far and hopefully will keep on going.”