Rock Racing did it. They controlled the stage from start to finish, with a little help from the Colombian Caico team, and kept the leader jersey’s in the hands of Santiago Botero. (Race Report).
The tough Sunset loop stage was made even tougher by multiple crashes including one on the first time up sunset, on the first lap, which involved about 30 riders. The pace was so high, that the riders could not catch up to the main field once back up. Francois Parisien took about 2 minutes to recover from the crash, and even with the full power of his Symmetrics team time trailing, he could not catch up. Quite a bitter blow for the team. Same for Ben Day, who had Henk Vogels and Ivan Dominguez to pace his back, but they abandoned on different laps when it was obvious it wouldn’t work.
Breaks were established for a few laps, but under the Rock Racing (and Caico) impetus, the 30-man (or so) field was all together coming into the finishing circuit in downtown Redlands. Same circuit as yesterday’s crit, so well known to all. BMC tried to control but Colavita, who had managed to have most of their riders in the field, came to the front with one lap to go and set up a perfect lead out train for Alejandro Borrajo. Behind him, some argy bargy between Tony Cruz and Rory Sutherland to try and move up.
In the final GC, Chris Baldwin finished second (again) and Burke Swindlehurst in third. Got to say, that both Chris and Burke are two of the easiest guys to get quotes from after a stage, they are always professional in providing info about what happened.
Note to self, do not rely on the official race vehicle to get to Sunset loop, for the second year in a row, the media waited for over 30 minutes before the van showed up… and then we had to leave 3 laps before the last sunset loop lap, so we missed a lot of the action.