Franz claims Tour of the Gila Stage 2 victory, Duehring moves into GC lead

Rally UHC Cycling showed Thursday that pure grit can power you to the top of the podium as Heidi Franz stuck a break with several other riders, climbed away from them, then never gave up as she barreled toward the finish in a two-up drag race that ended in her first UCI win.

Franz bested Olympic bronze medalist and world champion, Canadian Jasmin Duehring (Sho-Air TWENTY20), after the two attacked with less than 15 miles to go from a breakaway of five riders. But Duehring’s efforts made up a minute and 46 seconds on GC and gained 12 seconds to put her in first place overall.

“It feels unbelievable,” Franz said. “I’ve never … it was my first professional win, first UCI win, and I just can’t thank the team enough. It’s really emotional for me. It just gives me a lot of confidence that I hadn’t had before, so I’m just so happy, just really happy.”

Full results

Franz said an initial breakaway established just over the second QOM in which she and her teammate Abby Mickey worked with Leigh Ann Ganzar (Hagens Berman | Supermint), Deborah Paine (Donne Aevolo) and Erica Clevenger (Sho-Air TWENTY20).

“Abby Mickey and I, my teammate, we were both in it — we were happy to roll it — and then at the bottom of the descent [Edwige] Pitel bridged up, so suddenly we had to stop working because she was there, just to protect Krista’s [Doebel-Hickok] position in [general classification], and then Leigh Ann Ganzar sort of separated the breakaway,” Franz said. “She attacked, and Erica Clevenger and I followed, and then it kind of bounced back.”

Disorganization marred the breakaway as teams’ strategies varied to protect GC positions for much of the time they were off the front. Pitel (Femme Équipe p/b Swisse Wellness) was sitting in second place on GC and appeared and reappeared in the break often.

“There was a lot of shifting around in the breakaway,” Franz said. “It was a little chaotic sometimes.”

When Duehring attacked over the last few rollers with less than 15 miles to go, Franz said she followed her and the two worked together all the way to the finishing straight.

Then the gloves came off and Franz had the legs to carry her over the finish line before Duehring. Ganzar rounded out the Stage 2 podium by beating Mickey to the line.

How the race began

The Inner Loop Road Race started off with teams organizing at the 1.5-mile mark to set up for the first intermediate sprint. A bunch sprint ensued and sprint leader Chloé Dygert Owen (Sho-Air TWENTY20) took first-place points, followed by Ana Maria Hernandez Delgado (Durango-Specialized) and Doebel-Hickok.

“Sprint points also mean bonus seconds, so that’s I guess kind of the main point of going for it,” Dygert Owen said. “It’s nice to have the jersey, but if I can gain all the time in the sprints, and then try to have a really good time trial, go after the leaders jersey and see how it goes.”

As the first QOM approached at 11.6 miles in, race leader Brodie Chapman (Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank), Pitel and Doebel-Hickok had a slight advantage on the field. When they crested the climb, Chapman came away with first-place points.

Then a break of about 35 riders separated themselves from the field on a winding descent, and six riders had a slight advantage, but were swallowed up by the group.

As they approached the second QOM, Pitel drilled it to secure first-place points. As the group picked up speed on the descent, the initial break of Franz, Mickey, Ganzar, Clevenger and Paine gained a 30-second advantage. Pitel and Duehring then bridged up to make it seven.

Other riders saw an opportunity to either join the break or pull it back. Emily Newsom (Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank) and Lindsay Goldman (Hagens Berman | Supermint) gave chase, but right as they caught onto the group, attacks ensued.

Franz, Ganzar, and Clevenger took off with Duehring and Mickey chasing, followed by Newsom, Paine, Pitel and Scotti Lechuga (Donne Aevolo), who came across.

Finale

At mile 41.5, the second intermediate sprint points were gobbled up by Clevenger, Ganzar and Franz, and with 10 miles to go, Franz picked up the final QOM points, followed by Duehring as the two would head toward the finish and stay away before Franz ultimately won.

“When Heidi and Jasmin went with about 20 [kilometers] to go, it was on an uphill and I just didn’t quite have the legs, and so I had to chase for the last 20 [kilometers],” Ganzar said.

With Duehring now sitting in first place and Dygert Owen picking up time bonuses, Sho-Air TWENTY20 has two big cards to play heading into Friday’s Tyrone Individual Time Trials presented by Freeport McMoran.

“It worked out exactly how we talked about — getting [Jasmin] in a break — so it was all around a good day for all of us,” Dygert Owen said. “I have a really good coach and a lot of support behind me. Really the only thing I have to worry about is my legs — I have super mechanics and everything to help get everything situated, so it’s going to be full gas day tomorrow, just full gas.”

Full results

General Classification

  1.  Jasmin Duehring (Sho-Air TWENTY20)
  2.  Brodie Chapman (Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank) – 12 seconds back
  3.  Edwige Pitel (Femme Équipe p/b Swisse Wellness) – 27 seconds back

Sprint Leader

  1.  Chloé Dygert Owen (Sho-Air TWENTY20)
  2.  Heidi Franz (Rally UHC Cycling)
  3.  Leigh Ann Ganzar (Hagens Berman | Supermint)

Queen of the Mountains

  1.  Brodie Chapman (Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank)
  2.  Edwige Pitel (Femme Équipe p/b Swisse Wellness)
  3.  Krista Doebel-Hickok (Rally UHC Cycling)

Best Young Rider

  1.  Chloé Dygert Owen (Sho-Air TWENTY20)
  2.  Heidi Franz (Rally UHC Cycling)
  3.  Alice Cobb (Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank)

Team Classification

  1.  Sho-Air TWENTY20
  2.  Rally UHC Cycling
  3.  Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank

Photos by SkyWest Media