FORT BAYARD, New Mexico (VN) — Christopher Blevins (Hagens Berman Axeon) nabbed his best road victory yet on Thursday at the Tour of the Gila. The 20-year-old American shot past UnitedHealthcare’s Daniel Jaramillo and his other breakaway companions in the final kilometer to win stage 2.
Blevins had been part of a five-man breakaway that kept the field at bay, making it to the line for the victory.
“It was a long drag to the finish, I didn’t kick first in the sprint when Jaramillo went,” Blevins said. “I was a little unsure I was going to be able to jump with him but I was able to do it and I came around him.”
The victory could further complicate matters for the multi-talented Blevins, who may eventually have to choose to focus on road racing or mountain biking (he also happens to be the reigning under-23 cyclocross national champ).
“This win does not help me decide,” Blevins said. “I’m enjoying both and balancing both right now. I know in the coming years I will have to pick, mostly because the schedule gets more demanding whether its bigger races on the road or going for mountain points on the mountain bike. We’ll see.”
Blevins’s 2018 calendar has been a mix of cross-country mountain cup races and road events. He began the road season in California, taking his first professional win on the road at a stage in San Dimas while leading the national cup series on the mountain bike. Following the Tour of the Gila, Blevins will race Redlands, before returning to Europe for more races in the series, skipping the Amgen Tour of California.
“I’m so lucky and grateful that my team allows me to race both,” Blevins said. “Especially with our jump up to Pro Continental, it’s a lot more serious and on us to treat it as so. Axel [Merckx] has been really great allowing me the freedom to go after the mountain bike races too.”
“It’s been a balance,” said Hagens Berman Axeon sports director Jeff Louder. “Of course we’d love to have him race on the road as much as possible. He’s obviously a very talented mountain bike racer and that’s important to him and important for us to let him develop that way. It’s great to have him come to races like this and succeed. Hopefully that keeps him on the path to road racing.
“At the same time, he’s young and has time to decide. We’re just happy with his results.”
Blevins also earned enough points at the finish to slide into the lead for the green sprinters classification jersey. “It wasn’t a goal today but once you have it, you want to honor it,” Louder said.