BAYARD, New Mexico (VN) — Colavita-Forno d’Asolo’s Heather Logan-Sprenger pulled off another of her long solo attacks Thursday to take the SRAM Tour of the Gila’s second stage, the hilly and windy 80-mile Inner Loop Road Race. Defending champion Mara Abbott (Diadora-Pasta Zara) finished in the lead pack to retain her lead.
In the men’s race, veteran sprinter Frank Pipp took the win after his Bissell team took firm control of the race in the run-in. Pipp held off Jamis-Colavita’s Anibal Borrajo and Francisco Mancebo (Realcyclist.com), who grabbed third place on the stage to pad his overall lead over Jamis’ Tyler Wren.
Big day for Bissell
A breakaway formed virtually from the first kilometer of the men’s race, as the peloton hit the rollers heading out of Bayard. Joe Lewis (Trek-Livestrong), Mike Northey (Pure Black Racing), Ian Holt (Team Rio Grand), Jay Thomson (Bissell) and Evan Hyde (RealCyclist.com) hit the base of the first climb, to Pinos Altos, with 1:20 gap.
Holt, an active duty captain in the Air Force, was the best placed rider in the break, at 2:34 behind Mancebo. South African Thomson was the best climber in the group, which he showed by winning both of the day’s KOMs. Australian Joe Lewis was the group’s best sprinter, grabbing first place at both intermediate sprints. New Zealand’s all-rounder Mike Northey and Mancebo’s teammate, Hyde, rounded out the group.
The five rolled down the Mimbres Valley with a gap approaching 2:30, just barely putting Holt in the virtual race lead. Fly V and Jamis-Sutter Home, hoping for a field sprint and without representation in the break, led the chase.
With the turn out of the Mimbres Valley and onto the rollers of NM 152, the gap came down quickly, and Holt lost contact with the group on the tough feedzone hill.
A few miles later, Thomson broke from the others to grab the day’s second KOM points sprint, and briefly contemplated trying to go it alone to the finish.
“I got over the top with about 15 seconds on the three chasers and I thought, mmm, that’s a bit of a far way to the tape,” Thomson said later. “I sat up and we tried to work pretty good together, but when you’ve got a chasing bunch that wants a bunch sprint …”
Jamis and Fly V drove the chase, bringing an end to the 75-mile escape inside the last five miles of the race.
Soon after, Bissell, with relatively fresh legs because the team did not chase, took firm control of the front of the pack. Realcyclist also got in on the game, hoping to set up Cole House for the stage. But House got boxed in and Bissell was unstoppable.
Bissell’s Ben Jacques-Maynes brought Pipp to the front and Pipp jumped with about 250 meters to go. “It was a long sprint but I guess it’s hard enough that people’s legs just start to fade,” Pipp said. “I went earlier then I wanted to but I could on my right riders coming up on me, and if I waited I would have been pinned.”
Pipp sported a beard that he’s vowed to not shave until his first win of the year or the Tour of California. “Maybe I’ll have to shave it now, I don’t know,” he said with a smile.
Colavita continues coup
Last year, the Colavita women’s team took the first three spots on the Inner Loop stage. This year the team again scored multiple honors at Fort Bayard, winning the stage and taking the sprints competition lead.
Logan-Sprenger attacked about 40 miles into the race, after the day’s second intermediate sprint. She was joined by Anna Barensfeld (Missing Link). The two worked together to establish a lead of near three minutes at one point.
“We just went, we worked together. It was great (Barensfeld) did a really good job. We just kept it steady and kept going and going and before we knew it, we had a two-minute gap,” Logan-Sprenger said.
Barensfeld came unglued on the feedzone hill.
“She got blown off a little bit, so I just kept going,” Logan-Sprenger said. “It was so hard, I was scared half to death. I thought there was a bunch coming up right behind me.”
She flatted with three miles to go, but got a quick wheel change and built her lead up to over a minute by the finish.
It was the second big solo win this season for Logan-Sprenger, following her stage 2 win at the San Dimas stage race last month. She also took over the green points jersey from teammate Modesta Vzesniauskaite.
In the final miles Kristin Lasasso (Primal Wear-Mapmyride) and Tayler Wiles (Peanut Butter & Co-Twenty12) escaped the main group and came in less than a half minute behind Logan-Sprenger to complete the podium.
Abbott finished with the remnants of the main pack to retain her overall lead.
Friday’s Tyrone time trial is always a critical stage for the general classification. The 16.2-mile out-and-back is exposed to the wind and crosses a substantial hill.