Riding for Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank, Lex Albrecht won a close sprint to the finish on stage two at the Tour of the Gila, in New Mexico. Albrecht’s performance move her into eighth overall in the General Classification, less than 30 seconds back from the lead.
The 120.7km stage was a loop that started and finished at the historic Fort Bayard, a former military hospital. Hilly conditions and strong winds played a part in breaking down any attempts to split off the front of the peloton before breaking down the peloton itself to a field of about 30 riders.
In the first intermediate sprint, Canadian Jamie Gilgen took the top spot as she did on the opening stage of the Tour.
As each breakaway was pulled back to the group, the peloton closed on the finish and in the final kilometres, Tayler Wiles of UnitedHealthcare and Scotti Lechuga of Hagens Berman/Supermint split away from the group and started to open a lead. Riders tried to bridge to the finish, though none succeeded except for Albrecht.
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“I spent some of my last matches,” said Albrecht in an interview with Tour of the Gila after the stage, referring to the effort of bridging to the leaders.
As the three raced towards the finish, Albrecht watched for her opportunity, jumping into a sprint after Wiles jumped first. Albrecht edged the American to the line, claiming victory. Wiles’ performance was enough for her to take over the leader’s jersey.
“It really was a team effort today”, Lex said. “In the final ten kilometers we worked well together to cover attacks. I happened to go with the one that stuck. When Taylor came past me at speed on the last stretch, I knew I had to give it everything I had to get to the line first.”
Canadian Sara Bergen of Rally Cycling finished fifth on the stage, 20 seconds back from Albrecht. Bergen holds fifth overall in the GC, 24 seconds back from the leader.
American Eric Young, of Rally Cycling, beat the rest of the men’s field to earn the squad its second stage victory in as many days, out-sprinting UnitedHealthcare’s Travis McCabe off the front of a bunch sprint.
“It was a good day,” said Young after taking the stage victory. “The guys rode well all day, managing the break and keeping Matteo’s leader’s jersey safe. I felt decent all day and wanted to go for the win.
“Danny (Pate), Colin (Joyce), and Sepp (Kuss) made sure the breakaway stayed close, and in the final few kilometers, Adam (de Vos) made some tremendous efforts to keep me in a good position,” said Young. “I’m euphoric to win the Inner Loop Road Race again. It is one of my favorites, and it’s even more special today as it comes the day after Matteo’s excellent performance yesterday. The time trial is tomorrow, which will be critical for the overall. Hopefully, we can continue our success!”
Though a pack of riders escaped with just over 50kms remaining, the group were ultimately reeled back in inside the final 10kms of the stage.
With the group sprint crossing the finish at the front of the peloton, Canadian Matteo Dal-Cin retained his leader’s jersey heading into Friday’s time trial.
Calgarian Alexander Cowan of Silber Pro Cycling is among a group tied for the Young rider’s classification, and is a strong time trial rider. Cowan joined the team for the 2017 season.