Fort Bayard, New Mexico - Christopher Blevins won his second road victory of the season on stage 2 at the The Tour of the Gila after sprinting past Daniel Jaramillo (United Healthcare Pro Cycling).
After riding in a breakaway for most of the stage’s 76 mile route, the Hagens Berman Axeon rider and four other riders managed to hold a 4 minute advantage leading into the final KOM.
“Chris rode the final KOM really well and was smart to not expend 100% of his energy,” said sport director Jeff Louder. “It was inevitable that they were going to stay away and after the climb, he was able to collect himself a bit and get to the finish in a good spot.”
Leading into the finish, the 20-year-old from Durango, CO positioned himself second wheel with Janier Acevedo (United Healthcare Pro Cycling) who was riding for teammate Jaramillo. When Jaramillo made his move, Blevins reacted immediately, accelerating with Jaramillo, clawing back any distance Jaramillo was trying to put between himself and the break. Blevins’s response and own acceleration was significant and in the end proved too much for Jaramillo. Cormac Mcgeough (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis) finished third.
“Today was a great day for the break to stick because we had a big tailwind for the last 25 km where it often gets brought back,” said Blevins. “We worked really well together and then at 3 km out, I went to the back to get ready for the sprint. I really didn’t think I was going to be able to pull it off until I did. The win means a lot, it’s definitely the biggest one I’ve gotten on the road so far.”
Thursday’s stage has been one known for breakaways forming. When Louder looked at the forecast, he felt confident that a break would be even more promising with the way the winds would be blowing.
“We were ready for anything,” said Louder. “If the break hadn’t stayed away, the guys were prepared to set up Ricey for the sprint. We’re lucky in that way, having multiple guys riding well and ready to step up when and if they are needed. Today, Chris showed he has good legs, raced a smart race, and executed well to earn the victory.”
Earlier this week, Blevins quickly switched gears, err bikes, to race on the road after weeks of competing on the professional mountain biking circuit in the USA Cycling US Cup. The reigning U23 Mountain Biking National Champion currently leads the US Cup Series. In fact, the multi-talented rider has won every mountain bike race he has entered in 2018, 4 in total.
Tomorrow’s 4.5 mile individual time trial at the Village of Tyrone gets underway at 9:15 am MDT.
(Header image of Christopher Blevins (center podium) by Tour of the Gila)