Canadian Lex Albrecht took top honors at stage 2 of the women’s Tour of the Gila after an early sprint from breakaway companion Tayler Wiles (UnitedHealthcare) proved unsuccessful. The TIBCO rider took advantage of Wiles’ waning speed to win by inches at the finish in historic Fort Bayard, New Mexico on Thursday.
Scotti Lechuga (Hagens Berman-Supermint) rounded out the podium in third.
“I spent some of my last matches trying to hang on to that break,” said Albrecht. “It was pretty windy so I wasn’t sure if we were going to stay away, but in the last 500m, Tayler threw out her final attack and I followed. In the last 50m I stomped on the pedals and got my first victory at Gila. That’s pretty cool for me, especially on a sprinting stage.”
The 122km (76 mile) stage, held on the same loop as the UCI men’s race, saw much of the day dominated by UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, working to protect their race leader and stage 1 winner, Katie Hall. The blue team didn’t let any break get up the road and kept the pace high, which eventually popped more than half the field off the back.
With 25km to go, Lauretta Hanson (UnitedHealthcre), Julie Emmerman (Amy D Foundation), Julie Gilgen (Rise Racing) and Lindsey Bayer (Hagens Berman-Supermint) pulled away for a few kilometers, but inevitably went back to the bunch due to the pace set by UnitedHealthcare.
Ruth Winder, Hall and Wiles took turns laying down vicious attacks to wear down the remaining riders and at 10 km to go, Wiles broke away. Lechuga was the only rider who could stay with her before Albrecht bridged across.
“Today was really good,” Wiles said. “We had our ‘sprinty, climby’ riders work their butts off pacing it up and over the climb. Katie, Ruth and I took turns attacking — my dad calls us the three-headed monster. That paid off today, because I eventually got off the front with Scotti and Lex.
“Lex sat on the whole time while Scotti and I worked really hard,” she continued. “In the last kilometre we were slowing down and I was getting nervous, so I went for the sprint early. Unfortunately couldn’t get the win, but our team has the leader, best young rider and sprint jersey so I’m happy.”
After stage 2, Wiles is also leading the sprint classification and her teammate, Winder, is in the best young rider jersey. Melinda McCutcheon (Visit Dallas DNA) will wear the QOM jersey.
Tomorrow’s stage is a 26km (16.4 mile) out-and-back time trial starting in the small village of Tyrone. UCI men set off at 9:15 a.m. MDT and the women will follow.