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Tour of the Gila: Stites wins stage 2 at Fort Bayard

Tyler Stites (Project Echelon Racing) won stage 2 of the Tour of the Gila, outsprinting Ignacio Prado (Canel’s-ZeroUno) to the line at Fort Bayard. Alexander White (CS Velo) rounded out the podium in third.

Prado and White both experienced mechanicals during the Thursday’s Thursday’s 122.6km (76.2-mile) stage and clawed their way back to the reduced field to grab podium positions. White punctured on the final climb, and Prado said he had a derailleur malfunction on one of the first climbs. For Canel’s-ZeroUno, Prado nabbed another second-placed finish in consecutive days, Heiner Parra taking a runner-up position Wednesday on the steep Mogollon climb.

For Stites it was his seventh victory of the year so far, as he came into the UCI 2.2 stage race as the GC winner in the five-day Redlands Bicycle Classic. 

“Today’s stage was pretty dynamic. You had climbs and flats and it finishes with a flat sprint, so we were looking to put the leader under pressure,” Stites said. “Then we ended up chasing the break to bring it back, and then Canel’s helped as well. We ended up catching them right at the end. It came down to a sprint, which I like sprinting, so that worked out. I got a few bonus seconds which will help in the GC as well.”

Race leader Torbjørn Røen (Yoeleo Test Team plb 4Mind) finished in the front group of 15 riders in sixth overall and retained the GC lead. He started the day six seconds up on Parra and 13 seconds ahead of Matteo Dal-Cin (Toronto Hustle), while Stites was ninth overall at 53 seconds. Both Parra and Dal-Cin also finished in the front group.

The second day set off under a bright, blue sky for a large loop from Fort Bayard, a post–Civil War Army fort just to the east of Silver City, New Mexico, with three classified climbs and two bonus sprints. Much of the 1,762 metres (5,781 feet) of climbing was tackled in the opening 40km (25 miles) of the race, with two category 3 climbs completed.

A group of nine riders, many with GC aspirations, had gained a two-minute advantage at the mid-point of the route - Matteo Dal-Cin (Toronto Hustle), Matt Jablonski (Cinch Cycling), Alexander White and Sean Gardner (CS Velo), Jordan Cheyne and George Simpson (Project Echelon Racing) and a trio of riders from Aevolo in Gabriel Shipley, Brooks Wienke and Keith Gullickson. 

From the second intermediate sprint a few kilometres later, top points taken by Dal-Cin and the CS Velo riders, it was less than 55km to the finish. Another dozen kilometres or so later, Shipley dropped from the lead group. A few kilometres later White had to stop due to a mechanical. With about 15km remaining, another mechanical caused Jablonski to depart the breakaway.

Closing down to 10km to go, six riders pushed on but their advantage was reduced to just 20 seconds. Just before the town of Bayard, it was all back together again mainly downhill for 3.5km and then a slight rise on the final 1.5km for the finish at Fort Bayard. 

Image 1 of 14

Classification jerseys after stage 2: Heiner Parra Bustamante (Canel's Zerouno) in the Polka dot QOM, Jared Scott (Aevolo Cycling) in the White best under 25, Torbjorn Andre Røed (Yoeleo Test Team P/B 4Mind Project) in the red leader's jersey, and Tyler Stites (Project Echelon Racing) in Green Sprint jersey.

Classification jerseys after stage 2: Heiner Parra Bustamante (Canel's Zerouno) in the Polka dot QOM, Jared Scott (Aevolo Cycling) in the White best under 25, Torbjorn Andre Røed (Yoeleo Test Team P/B 4Mind Project) in the red leader's jersey, and Tyler Stites (Project Echelon Racing) in Green Sprint jersey. (Image credit: Snowy Mountain Photography)
Image 2 of 14

The sprint was full gas at 300m to go

The sprint was full gas at 300m to go (Image credit: Snowy Mountain Photography)
Image 3 of 14

Stage podium: Tyler Stites (Project Echelon Racing) 1st, Ignaci Prado Juarez (Canel's Zerouno) 2nd, Xander White (CS Velo) 3rd.

Stage podium: Tyler Stites (Project Echelon Racing) 1st, Ignaci Prado Juarez (Canel's Zerouno) 2nd, Xander White (CS Velo) 3rd. (Image credit: Snowy Mountain Photography)
Image 4 of 14

Tyler Stites (Project Echelon racing) was second wheel coming out of the final corner and first across the line.

Tyler Stites (Project Echelon racing) was second wheel coming out of the final corner and first across the line. (Image credit: Snowy Mountain Photography)
Image 5 of 14

At just over 1km to go to the top of the first KOM, the climbers took to the front stringing out the field in the search for Polka-points.

At just over 1km to go to the top of the first KOM, the climbers took to the front stringing out the field in the search for Polka-points. (Image credit: Snowy Mountain Photography)
Image 6 of 14

UCI officials were in good spirits at the start of the Pro Women's race.

UCI officials were in good spirits at the start of the race. (Image credit: Snowy Mountain Photography)
Image 7 of 14

A group of 14 Pro Men made it to the final corner together, with a few teammates who's job had been done on the run in to the finish peeling off behind.

A group of 14 Pro Men made it to the final corner together, with a few teammates who's job had been done on the run in to the finish peeling off behind. (Image credit: Snowy Mountain Photography)
Image 8 of 14

Stage podium: Tyler Stites (Project Echelon Racing) 1st, Ignaci Prado Juarez (Canel's Zerouno) 2nd, Xander White (CS Velo) 3rd.

Stage podium: Tyler Stites (Project Echelon Racing) 1st, Ignaci Prado Juarez (Canel's Zerouno) 2nd, Xander White (CS Velo) 3rd. (Image credit: Snowy Mountain Photography)
Image 9 of 14

Men's podium, Tyler Stites (Project Echelon racing) congratulates 2nd place Ignaci Prado Juarez (Canel's Zerouno).

Men's podium, Tyler Stites (Project Echelon racing) congratulates 2nd place Ignaci Prado Juarez (Canel's Zerouno). (Image credit: Snowy Mountain Photography)
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Riders in all categories faced stiff headwinds on the last 15 miles as they headed west on Hwy 52 back towards Historic Ft Bayard.

Riders in all categories faced stiff headwinds on the last 15 miles as they headed west on Hwy 52 back towards Historic Ft Bayard. (Image credit: Snowy Mountain Photography)
Image 11 of 14

Heiner Parra Bustamante (Canel's Zerouno) started the stage wearing the KOM jersey on behalf of Torbjorn Andre Røed, but would take it for himself by the end of the second stage.

Heiner Parra Bustamante (Canel's Zerouno) started the stage wearing the KOM jersey on behalf of Torbjorn Andre Røed, but would take it for himself by the end of the second stage. (Image credit: Snowy Mountain Photography)
Image 12 of 14

One mile (1.6 km) from the first KOM, the men's field was compressed waiting for someone to attack.

One mile (1.6 km) from the first KOM, the men's field was compressed waiting for someone to attack. (Image credit: Snowy Mountain Photography)
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Men's Pro peloton rolls north out out of Silver City headed up to the first KOM in Pinos Altos.

Men's Pro peloton rolls north out out of Silver City headed up to the first KOM in Pinos Altos. (Image credit: Snowy Mountain Photography)
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Will Gleason (f) and teammate Sean Gardner (CS Velo) were setting the pace early on the first climb.

Will Gleason (f) and teammate Sean Gardner (CS Velo) were setting the pace early on the first climb. (Image credit: Snowy Mountain Photography)

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Jackie Tyson
Jackie Tyson

Jackie has been involved in professional sports for more than 30 years in news reporting, sports marketing and public relations. She founded Peloton Sports in 1998, a sports marketing and public relations agency, which managed projects for Tour de Georgia, Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and USA Cycling. She also founded Bike Alpharetta Inc, a Georgia non-profit to promote safe cycling. She is proud to have worked in professional baseball for six years - from selling advertising to pulling the tarp. She has climbed l'Alpe d'Huez three times (not fast). Her favorite road rides are around horse farms in north Georgia (USA) and around lavender fields in Provence (France), and some mtb rides in Park City, Utah (USA).

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