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Marlies Mejias Garcia (Virginia’s Blue Ridge-Twenty24) won stage 2 at Tour of the Gila, capturing the reduced group sprint at Fort Bayard. Garcia was the fastest in the kick to the line beating Maeghan Easler (Roxo Racing) and Shayna Powless (DNA Pro Cycling).
On the second day of racing, the Inner Loop Road Race took riders through the rugged terrain of the Gila National Forest with a 74.1-mile loop and 5,854 feet of climbing for the women starting and finishing in Fort Bayard.
An early breakaway of three included Emily Ehrlich (VBR Twenty24), Maeghan Easler (Roxo Racing) and Shayna Powless (DNA Pro Cycling), built a lead out to 15 seconds ahead of the first intermediate sprint. Powless sprinted for full points ahead of Easler and Ehrlich, and they were shortly reeled in by the field just 6.5 miles into the stage.
Pato Bike BMC led the field into the first mountain pass, protecting stage 1 winner and overall race leader Marcela Prieto, and it wasn’t long before DNA Pro Cycling and Amy D Foundation joined up front to push the speeds.
Runner-up on stage 2, Austin Killips of the Amy D Foundation, took the points at the top of the first QOM (at 12.5 miles) ahead of Pato Bike BMC teammates Prieto and Flores Marquez with Nadia Gontova (Roxo Racing), who was third placed on stage 1, crossing the top in fourth and Anet Barrera (DNA Pro Cycling) fifth.
Over the top of the second QOM, Killips again picked up the full points just ahead of teammates Prieto and Marquez. But as the race settled back into a rhythm, Emily Newsom (Roxo Racing) launched a searing attack and built her lead out to nearly one minute.
Newsom took the full points on offer at the second intermediate sprint, and from the 18-rider chase group behind, DNA Pro Cycling teammates Powless and Kaitlyn Rauwerda took the second and third place in the intermediate sprint.
The chase group included Killips, Easler, Barrera, Ehrlich, Gontova, Prieto, and Powless, along with Olga Zabelinskaya (Tashkent), Marlies Mejias (Twenty24), Karen Villamizar and Escamilla Tamez (Pato Bike BMC).
The group caught Newsom with 25km to go, and the field came back together just ahead of the third and final QOM located at the 64.8-mile mark. Gontova led the field into the last climb, but Amy D Foundation took over the pace-setting to put Killips in position to take the points and the lead in the mountains classification, with Prieto in second and Gontova third.
As the race headed back to Fort Bayard, with 6km to go, Pato Bikes BMC took control of the peloton, with teams fighting for position ahead of an anticipated group sprint.
The five-day race continues with stage 3 Tyrone time trial on Friday.
More to follow…
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