Here we go, the race that traditionnally announces the start of the domestic racing season starts this Thursday, the 25th Redlands Bicycle Classic brings together a very strong field of pro men and women vying for the overall win.
Peruse the preliminary roster here. On the women’s side, the Columbia-High Road team who dominated the San Dimas Stage Race held last weekend, walking away with all stage wins, all jerseys and the overall classification is the team to beat. But it can be done, last year Mara Abbott (Columbia-High Road) led by 11 seconds going into the final stage but Alex Wrubleski then riding for Webcor Builders not only won the final stage but grabbed some important time bonuses to claim victory by one second over Abbott. Wrubleski is now riding for Columbia-High Road but other riders paid attention. Two-time winner Amber Neben (Nurnberger Shoair), Emma Rickards (Tibco) in hew new team colors, Alison Powers (Team Type 1), Leah Goldstein (ValueAct), Katheryn Curi-Mattis and Rebecca Much both of Webcor will be applying the pressure. Also, watch Tibco’s Kat Carroll…. just saying.
In the men’s race, the battle should also be fierce. A motivated Fly V/Australia is coming out of a very successful San Dimas Stage race with the overall win for Ben Day and a stage win by Jonathan Cantwell and is aiming to continue their winning ways. While last year’s winner Santiago Botero retired, Rock Racing is pinning its hope on Chris Baldwin for GC but also has a very sprinting team with Rahsaan Bahati, Justin Williams and Iggy Silva. Other riders bringing it are BMC’s Jeff Louder, Bissell’s Ben Jacques-Maynes and Tom Zirbel, and 2005 winner Chris Wherry (Team Hotel San Jose). After a somewhat disappointing start to their season given all the media hoopla, OUCH’s Floyd Landis and Rory Sutherland will be coming out all guns blasting. It’s also the first big race of the season for the Kelly Benefits Strategies with 2007 winner Andy Bajadali and Neil Shirley.
Interestingly, we’ll also have the first head to head of two of the American development teams, Garmin-Holoweko Partners-Felt and Trek-Livestrong.
On Thursday March 26, the race starts off with a 3.1-mile (5 km) uphill prologue, the Sun Time Trial where the finish is at the top of the climb with a 207 meter (680’) total vertical ascent. Update: Annie Malouin (Team BC) is the first rider off at 10:39am; Amber Neben (Nurnberger Shoair) is the last woman at 11:48am. JR Grabinger (Fly V Australia-Successful Living) starts off the pro men at 12:10pm and Tom Zirbel (Bissell) is the final rider at 1:47pm. Also nearly thirty handcyclists are set to do battle over three days of racing too, and the first handcycle athlete starts at 9:30am. Complete start lists here .
Stage 1 on Friday is the The City of Beaumont Road Race, a circuit race around a 24-mile (38.9 km) course which the women do 3 laps for 72.6 miles (116.8 km) and the men do 4 times for a total of 96.8 miles (155.7 km). Each lap includes a climb to the summit of Bogart County Park with an elevation of 3230 ft (985 m).
Saturday March 28 is stage 2, the City of Redlands Criterium, a timed event raced on a highly technical, tight 9 turn 1.6 km course. The women race 60 minutes and the men 90 minutes. (google map)
Sunday is the Queen Stage, the Beaver Medical Group Sunset Road Race, which starts and finishes in downtown Redlands and take the riders through lap after grueling lap around Sunset Loop. The 6.2 miles (10.0 km) starts off with considerable climbing as it winds its way around and up and down. The women do 9 laps of the Sunset loop for a total of 65.7 miles (105.7 km) and the men endure 12 laps for 91 miles (146.5 km).
Complete schedule here