Redlands Stage 1 was a new stage in Beaumont and most men seemed to be expecting a bunch sprint finish and an easier stage that previous year’s Oak Glen Road Race. They couldn’t have been more wrong. The pace was high from the start, and riders were being dropped on the first lap of the 5 laps circuit.
I spent most of the race in the Team Type 1 car getting acquainted with this new time, and listening to race radio from way back in the caravan passed riders shelled out left and right. Team Type 1 lost 2 riders with Ben Brooks and Phil Southerland both abandoning early on due to injuries.
The pace really never slowed down. As expected, a break was finally created in the second lap, with an interesting composition. Strangely, the Health Net team didn’t seem really interested in chasing them down, and the 5 men, especially under the impetus of Santiago Botero, managed to get a gap of 5 minutes. At that point, Health Net with the help of BMC, Jittery Joe’s and KBS started chasing but it was too late. (Race Report).
Botero, the strongest in the break, just rolled away from the others in the climb on the last lap and easily won the stage, taking all the jerseys. Of course, he had to do that stupid ‘horn’ sigh when crossing the finish line. You know, if you have to work at being cool, you just ain’t cool.
Also in the break, and now in contention for GC were Francois Parisien, Chris Baldwin, and Burke Swindlehurst.
There is no way that Rock Racing want another fiasco on their hands like San Dimas, where they lost the stage race on the last day by 1 seconds, so I’m expecting them to fight tooth and nail to control everything til the end. The San Dimas winner Cam Evans and his Symmetrics team will be throwing everything they can to try and move Parisien up as they basically have nothing to lose and must get results to try and attract sponsors and get their guys selected for the Olympics.