Tour of the Gila: Holcomb and Grand Win Stage 2, Inner Loop Road Race

The Inner Loop Road Race, stage 2 of the Silver City’s Tour of the Gila powered by SRAM delivered drama as the breakaways survived to take the victory in both the NRC women’s and UCI men’s races today in Fort Bayard.  Janel Holcomb, of the Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies team took a solo flyer to grab the win while Arnaud Grand of the BMC Development Team took the victory in a hotly contested sprint from a three-man breakaway.

No changes to the general classification after stage 2, both Mara Abbott of Exergy TWENTY16 team and Janier Acevedo of Jamis-Hagens Berman remain in the red Town of Silver City’s Leader’s jersey.

With the field breathing down their necks, Grand, Jonathan Clarke of UnitedHealthare Pro Cycling and Max Jenkins of 5-Hr Energy p/b Kenda were focused on reaching the finish line as fast as possible. Through Clarke crossed the line first, Grand was awarded the win after officials upheld his protest over irregular sprinting, relegating Clarke to second place. Jenkins took third.

The three escaped early in the stage after Jenkins launched a counter-attack once the overall contenders were reeled back in.  The group worked together and pushed their gap to four minutes to the field controlled by Jamis-Hagens Berman to protect the overall lead of Acevedo.  Though the field closed the gap in the final kilometers to the line, the surge came too late to catch the escapees.

Acevedo retains the lead in the Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold King of the Mountain classification.  Grand  claimed the green Grant County sprint jersey while Gavin Mannion (Bontrager) retained  the white Champion Best Young Rider jersey.

Spending most of the day off the front,  Holcomb soloed to an emotional win on the Inner Loop Road Race. Holcomb rode off the front solo early. She was joined by Chantal Blaak of Team TIBCO on an attack. The two worked really well together until the final big climb. Holcomb had strong legs today and accelerated. She was able to gain separation quickly from Blaak and the main field. Holcomb was able to stay away for the win.

Shelley Olds  and Jo Kiesanowski both of Team TIBCO,  Robin Farina of NOW and Novartis for MS, and Jade Wilcoxson of OPTUM p/b Kelly Benefits Strategies broke from the main field with five kilometers to go. Wilcoxson did a surprise attack in the last 700 meters in the corner and got a huge gap. Olds chased down Wilcoxson and was able to go around her on the line to win second. Wilcoxson finished in third.

Abbott also retains the lead in the Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Queen of the Mountain classification.  With her victory, Holcomb claimed the green Grant County Sprint jersey. Rushlee Buchanan (Team TIBCO) retains the white Champion Best Young Rider jersey.

Racing continues on Thursday with the Dan Potts Memorial Tyrone Time Trial.


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