Emerging from a late race 4-rider break, Jeff Louder (BMC) sprinted to the win at the Beaumont Road Race and to the overall lead of the Redlands Bicycle Classic. Louder crossed the line ahead of Will Routley (Jelly Belly) and Peter Stetina (Garmin-Holoweko Partners-Felt). Tom Zirbel (Bissell) was fourth and moved himself up to second place in the overall classification.
“I have a pretty good jump and with a tailwind like this, once I got the gap I could just hold it I think, and it paid off. Maybe I had the best sprint out of guys who aren’t the best sprinters. We were pretty desperate to get to the line, everyone really put their head down, it was a good group to be with, all four guys, the other three really wanted to ride hard, when I looked around and saw who I was with, it was really nice. Zirbel was putting in some serious pulls, that guy is so strong. ” said Louder.
“All four of us really put our head down and rolled as hard as we could as we really wanted to get as much time as possible, you never know if any of the sprinters’ team have gas left, I mean there’s only four of us and it’s downhill fast. We really didn’t play any cat and mouse until we came into the final corner and we sprinted out of that corner. I was kind of looking and hoping for a spot to take a flyer but it’s just so fast and all downhill, it wasn’t really conducive to doing that so we had to wait to the end and sprint it out and Louder and I were the too guys in the back and he opened it up out of the last corner and I was on his wheel, started to come around but just didn’t have enough road.” said Routley about the tactics in the finale.
“I was actually sitting trying to save a bit of energy in the end around this corner in second position, winding up the sprint and my gear started skipping, I had a wheel change in the race so I’m a little bummed that the gear skipped when I was trying to go but I’m still really happy with thirt, the podium is really great. The team took care me today, we raced like a team. ” said Stetina.
Winds, winds and more winds. WIth winds -be it headwinds or tailwinds- playing havoc , it became much harder to break the race apart, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. A huge field of 200 riders took the start of the 96.8 miles (155.7 km) stage 1 around a 24-mile (38.9 km) course in the city of Beamont. On each lap, the men were faced with two climbs including the KOM to the summit of Bogart County Park with an elevation of 3230 ft (985 m) and extremely strong tailwinds, headwinds and crosswinds.
Kirk Carlsen (Garmin-Holoweko Partners-Felt) saw his opportunity and went for the KOM points and after taking points for second spot decided to go for the red jersey.
“The first lap on the KOM, I was up there, I decided to go for it and I was second. It was more of a positioning thing, and then I figured I’d give it a go. Every lap it worked out that I was in position going over the climb, I decided to keep going and see how many points I could get. ” said Carlsen.
Ben King (Trek-Livestrong) put in a strong attack in the second lap gaining a gap of about 2 minutes before being reeled in. The Fly V Australia team was at front controlling every move in a very aggressive race
After King was caught, the field settled in for a lap before the finale.
“The hill is kind of tough, more from positioning, and it was so windy there, lots of split in the crosswind, after that rider got caught, we went really fast going down the hill and it split up into a whole bunch of groups, on the second last lap. I think people were trying, it wasn’t to do with lack of aggression, guys on our team put in a few attacks as well, most teams were attacking but it was just tough to get away. There was a huge stretch where you were going almost 80 km an hour on a flat, we were all spun out, we needed bigger gears. ” said Routley.
It all came back together on the final lap.
“it was all together, on the second uphill before the KOM climb, Kirk was really high on the KOM points so I hit it, playing the acceleration game on the climb and right at the top Kirk sprinted around me for the top points, it came all back together. I attacked on the corners on the beginning of the descent, I was away, it was real hard there was a headblock, I looked behind me and all of sudden three guys, Zirbel, Louder and Routley, came up to me and there’s a lot of power in that group and we just put our heads down, time trialed all the way.” said Stetina.
“The course came around and we had a downhill crosswind section and Stetina attacked and he soloed away and brought Tom and Will with me. I bridged up to Stetina with those two on my wheel, it was really windy, there’s a short moment where it’s kind of riding straight into a wall but I knew that as soon as we got to the corner we’d have that long drag with the crosswinds where if you get a few guys rolling well it could be a chance. It was, it worked out.” explained Louder.
“And then it was just a matter of trying to hold to 70, 80 km an hour this entire way down, whatever that is, 8 km to the finish.” said Routley.
With two stages to go, including the tough Sunset loop on Sunday, Louder leads the overall classification by 7 seconds over Zirbel. Ben Day (Fly V Australia) dropped down to third spot at 9 seconds back.
“Now we’re defending, just after the race, Ben told me ‘I said yesterday that it’s easier to win this race from behind, good luck to your guys’. ” said Louder.
Carlsen leads the KOM, and Louder also picked the green points jersey.
Today is a 90-minute crtierium Criterium, a highly technical, tight 9 turn 1.6 km course in downtown Redlands which was won last year by Jeff Louder (BMC) in a brekaway. Again, there are time bonuses on the line which in theory could shake up the GC.The men start at 3:30pm. (see google map).
Sprinter Alex Candelario (Kelly Benefit Strategies), winner of the crit in 2004, shared the secret to winning in a bunch sprint.
“It’s not much of a secret. Assuming it’s a field sprint, the key to winning this race is basically that position in the last lap is so important. Out of the whole lap there’s only maybe on straight where you can pass a lot of people and most of the other times you can pass only three or four guys and if you don’t have top ten position in the last lap you’re not going to be able to contest the win at all. You got to be first in that last corner because there is not passing anybody unless you take a really a bad line, if you have control in that last corner no one is going to be able to pass you. ” said Candelario.