Christoper Blevins has a new jersey to add to his closet, and it isn’t the polka-dot design for climbing he is used to wearing.
Blevins, a 20-year-old professional cyclist from Durango, finished the five-stage Tour of the Gila road race in Silver City, New Mexico, as the men’s top sprinter, giving him the green jersey in the International Cycling Union (UCI) points race.
Blevins scored 28 sprint points and never took the jersey off after he won the second stage road race Thursday to go into the green.
“It definitely wasn’t the goal going into the race,” Blevins said in a phone interview with The Durango Herald. “Especially not the green jersey. I don’t think I’ve won a green jersey other than when I was 15-16. I usually get the polka dot if anything. To wrap it up yesterday in the crit, then today I was just trying to help my teammate keep the white jersey.”
Blevins wrapped up the green jersey win Saturday in the downtown criterium in which he placed fifth and helped push Hagens Berman Axeon teammate Michael Rice to a stage win.
“It was really a dream day,” Blevins said. “We couldn’t have executed the plan any better. There were three bonus sprints through the race, and we did a good job getting our guy in the white jersey through those. The last two laps, we took command of the race. I was the leadout for Rice. I came around the last corner first, and he came around me. It was nice to the see the teammate win when you’ve put in the hard work as a team.”
The white jersey for the top young rider in the pro field went to Blevins’ teammate Sean Bennett, who finished the five stages in a combined 13:54:52. Blevins was 43 seconds back of that time, while Thomas Revard, another Hagens Berman Axeon rider, was third in 3:20.
Blevins finished 10th on Sunday’s fifth and final stage, a 100.6-mile road race. Gavin Mannion of the U.S. won the stage in 4 hours, 2 minutes, 41 seconds. Rally Cycling’s Rob Britton of Canada was second, one second back, and Rally Cycling’s Kyle Murphy of the U.S. was third, 30 seconds back of Mannion. Blevins finished 50 seconds back.
“It was definitely a really brutal day,” Blevins said of Stage 5, which featured 9,131 feet of climbing, 8,252 feet of descent, two bonus sprints and five King of the Mountains. “There were three big climbs, especially tough at altitude. My climbing compared to last year here was a big difference. I made it with the lead group and survived to the finish. The result is probably the one I’m proudest of this week.”
Blevins finished ninth in the General Classification. Britton was the GC winner in 13:50:42. Mannion was second, 52 seconds back, and Murphy was third, 2:14 back. Blevins’ time was 4:53 back of Britton.
Colombia’s Oscar Eduardo Sanchez of Canels Specialized was the King of the Mountain with 45 points, 11 more than Britton. Blevins was 16th in the KOM standings.
It was also a strong showing for the new 303 Project team which features Durango talent. Isaiah Newkirk was seventh in the GC, 3:37 back. Cullen Easter, a former Colorado Mesa University athlete who trains with his brother Griffin in Durango, was 18th in the GC, 12:40 back. Griffin Easter, a former Fort Lewis College rider, was 19th, 13:03 back. Durango’s Rolando Gonzalez added a 71st-place finish, 47:03 back.
Cormac McGeough, a current top FLC rider who competed for the Jelly Belly team, was 40th in the GC, 32:42 back. McGeough was third on Stage 2 to reach a podium on the day Blevins won the stage, and Cullen Easter was fourth that day.
Katie Hall of the U.S. and the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Women’s Team won the women’s race GC. She finished in 12:07:42. Canada’s Sara Poidevin of Rally Cycling was second, 44 seconds back, and Leah Thomas, a teammate of Hall’s, was third 2:11 back. Rally Cycling’s Emma White wore the green jersey ahead of fellow American Chloe Dygert of the Sho-Air TWENTY20 team. Poidevin was the top young rider., while France’s Edwige Pitel was the Queen of the Mountain.
Up next for Blevins is the Redlands Bicycle Classic stage race May 2-6 in California. He will then return to the mountain bike for a World Cup event in Europe. Blevins already has two USA Cycling Pro Mountain Bike Cross-Country Tour wins this year, as he swept the Fontana and Bonelli races in California. He leads the Pro XCT standings with 80 points. The under-23 cross-country mountain bike and cyclocross national champion will target road nationals, Tour of Utah and the Colorado Classic as his other road races this year. The mountain bike World Cup stop in Europe at the end of May will keep him out of Durango’s Iron Horse Bicycle Classic.
“I would love to do the Iron Horse, especially now with the Main Street BMX. That event is a dream come true for me,” said Blevins, who got his cycling start in BMX before he was even old enough for elementary school. “One of these years, I’ll be able to come back and do it.”