Marlies Mejias Garcia triumphs again at Tour of the Gila, with Stephens retaining overall lead

Marlies Mejias Garcia 2024 Tour of the Gila Stage 2 (Brian Hodes)

In a thrilling stage 2 of the Tour of the Gila, Marlies Mejias Garcia from Virginia’s Blue Ridge Twenty24 claimed her second consecutive victory, showcasing her sprint prowess at Fort Bayard. The Cuban rider managed to out-sprint her close rival Yanina Kuskova from Tashkent City and maintain a strong position in the overall race dynamics. Lauren Stephens of Cynisca Cycling, despite fierce competition, held onto her red leader’s jersey, extending her overall lead.

The stage unfolded with high drama, featuring several attempts by riders to break away from the peloton. Early in the race, Anet Barrera of DNA Pro Cycling initiated an attack, which was followed by spirited efforts from Céclie Lejeune of Steve Tilford Foundation, Kuskova, and Emily Erlich of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Twenty24. Despite these aggressive moves, the peloton regrouped after the initial climbs, setting the stage for a compact finish.

Elizabeth Dixon of Fount Cycling launched a late solo attack before the final classified climb, managing to build a significant lead of nearly two minutes. However, her bold move was reeled in with just 3km remaining, demonstrating the peloton’s determination to keep the race together for a sprint finish.

The 74.1-mile stage, marked by 6,103 feet of elevation gain, challenged the riders with three Category 3 Queen of the Mountain climbs and two intermediate sprints. The course’s profile, combined with the strategic placement of the sprints and climbs, tested the riders’ resilience and tactical acumen.

Marlies Mejias Garcia 2024 Tour of the Gila Stage 2 (Kai Caddy)
Marlies Mejias Garcia
(Photo Credit: Kai Caddy)

Mejias spoke highly of her team’s effort, which was pivotal in her victory. “It’s not just my victory but the entire team’s. The hard work they did today afforded me this win,” she reflected, praising her teammates for their role in navigating the challenging conditions, particularly the strong winds that influenced the race’s final phase.

The stage also saw its share of mishaps, with several crashes reported during the descent. Mara Roldan of Cynisca Cycling was among those affected, leading to her withdrawal from the race due to a precautionary measure for a possible concussion.

Looking ahead, the Tour of the Gila continues with the Tyrone Time Trial, where Stephens, a previous winner of the stage, expressed her anticipation and readiness to extend her lead further. “It was quite windy coming into the finish, and unfortunately, we had Mara crash, which was tough on the team. However, I’m looking forward to the time trial and hoping to add another stage win to my achievements here,” Stephens stated.

2024 Tour of the Gila Stage 2 result

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Main photo credit: Brian Hodes