First year junior Christopher Blevins sprinted to stage win on Thursday at the Tour de l’Abitibi, the second victory for his USA Team that day following the time trial in the morning. In the final kilometers of the 51.5-km stage, Blevins tucked in behind his leadout train before opening his sprint to cross the line first.
“I was very happy. It was a beautiful team effort to get me to the line, and my teammates really made it easy for me to the finish. It was a definitely a good day for us with the TT in the morning and that short stage in the evening,” Blevins said.
Overall leader and time trial winner Brandon McNulty was the last man in the leadout. “Adrian [Costa] took over with 1 kilometer and then Brandon gave me the perfect last leadout. We kept him safe and he got third on the day.”
The 17-year old described his victory at the only Junior Nations Cup event outside of Europe as “big”. “It’s obviously a Nations Cup. No matter where you are, a Nations Cup win is always a big deal. I’m very lucky and thankful.”
Tagged at the strongest team before the start of the 47th edition of the six-stage/five-day race, Team USA has won three stages and have a strong hold in the general classification with McNulty and Adrien Costa in first and second respectively.
On stage 4, the team sent riders up the road, forcing other teams to chase on the lollilop course that started and ended in Malartic, Quebec. “We tried to mix it a little bit, be a little unpredictable. We threw that at them early and with 5 kilometers to go, it was all together and we set up our leadout train.”
Racing both mountain bikes and on the road, Blevins has a full schedule. “It’s been a very busy season. I’ve been to Europe twice already and to South America for PanAm Games, just a lot of racing. It’s hard to juggle both of them but it’s definitely worth it.”
Why do both? “Just because I like both of them, and I can’t pick one of them right now,” he replied with a laugh.
Many riders feel they must select one discipline for their future as they hit the junior 17-18 ranks. Blevins is fully cognizant that that day is coming. “By next year, I’ll focus on one and by U23 I’ll have to make a decision just because the schedule is too demanding.”
After the Tour of Abitibi ends on Sunday, Blevins will return to his home in Durango, Colorado for rest and more training. Then, he’ll represent the USA at the Mountain Bike World Championships in Andorra, September 1-6, and then switch back to road for the Nations Cup event, September 11-13, in Croatia.
He is also hoping to make the USA team for the UCI Road World Championships to be held in Richmond, Virginia in September. The talent is deep in the junior ranks this year for the United States but Blevins remains hopeful.
“It’s a great group of guys. I think I’ve got a decent shot, I’m looking forwards to it and I just have to keep on pushing at the race. No matter what, who goes for the US will be strong.”