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The Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder is a five-day stage race in the Cascade Mountains near Bend, Oregon. Each day a pro will be reporting to VeloNews from within the event.
As we enter our second day of the Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder, we not only find ourselves in complete awe of the white-capped West Cascades but also see the pointy end of the OTTG beginning to get very interesting.
Any stage race has its ups and downs, and the drama that enfolds after many days of racing is not only captivating, but actually rather incredible.
If we take a look at stage 2, the women’s field saw another strong showing by Sarah Max, attacking and staying away on the first climb coming over the top with about a minute gap on Sofia Gomez Villafañe, who continues her solid form from the past month.
After a pedaly descent, Max and Gomez Villafañe looked poised to have a real battle with about 20 miles to go. However, Gomez Villafañe pulled away on the last climb, and Max, hesitating, let Gomez solo to the win. In the general classification, Gomez Villafañe has a comfortable 8 minute lead over Max, with Sarah Sturm –who finished 4th on the stage – another six minutes behind Max.
On the men’s side of things, as the pace began to really heat up going into the first 20-mile climb, a small select group of three leaders – Christopher Blevins, Howard Grotts, and Peter Stetina – would ascend to the top and comfortably begin the long pedaling descent.
The most dramatic moment of the day? When the trio spotted a black bear meandering across the road near the finish.
In the end, Blevins stole the show, taking the win. (Notably, Blevins is the first American man to win a Mountain Bike World Cup since 1994.) In the GC, we have Stetina sitting at just 16 seconds behind Blevins, which is a surprisingly small amount of time for a gravel event. Back another five minutes, but certainly not out of it, is Grotts.
As we head into the third stage, a lot of racing is yet to come, but the showdown in the men’s race — between WorldTour roadie versus two mountain bike strongmen — will undoubtedly provide some entertainment for those following along.
Looking ahead, one thing is certain: there is still a lot of climbing and descending on the gravel roads and trails, and with temperatures headed north of 90 degrees, anything can happen along the Oregon Trail.
Alex Candelario is a retired professional cyclist, the chief operating officer of Argonaut Cycles and now admittedly “gravel curious.” He lives in Bend, Oregon.