An action-packed UCI Men’s Stage 2 Tour of the Gila on Thursday made for some finish-line fireworks with Tyler Stites (Project Echelon Racing) sprinting into Fort Bayard for the win and a time bonus of 10 seconds, but the top three overall leaders stayed put, for now.
Stites, the recent Redlands Bicycle Classic overall winner, inched a tiny bit closer to the red overall leader’s jersey, bringing his gap down to 42 seconds and moving into seventh place.
“Today’s stage was pretty dynamic – you have the climbs and the flats, and it finishes with the flat sprint,” Stites said. “We were looking to put the leader under pressure, and then we ended up chasing the break to bring it back, and Canel’s helped as well, and we ended up catching him right at the end. It came down to a sprint, which I like sprinting, so that worked out, and I got a few bonus seconds which will help in the [general classification] as well.”
The Fort Bayard Inner Loop Road Race p/b Brian & Lynn Robinson/SW Bone & Joint Institute, a 76.2-mile course with everything from rollers to steep ascents and descents to a flat sprint, provided plenty of opportunity for teams to execute their game plans, and the action started shortly after the flag dropped.
Riders took advantage of Highway 180’s width and launched crossroad attacks trying to formulate breaks that never quite stuck. Heading toward Pinos Altos and the first king-of-the-mountains points, Heiner Parra Bustamante (Canel’s ZEROUNO), who led the king-of-the-mountains classification, launched an attack with help from a teammate and took maximum points, followed by Christhian Ravelo Avila (CS Velo), Xander White (CS Velo) and Matteo Dal-Cin (Toronto Hustle), who was five seconds down from Parra Bustamante on GC.