BMC, BMC and more BMC. After his team controlled the 90-minute Redlands criterium, BMC’s Jackson Stewart came out of the crashed-marred final lap in fourth wheel around the last corner and outsprinted everyone for the win. Canadian Andrew Pinfold (Ouch) was second, and Stewart’s teammate Brent Bookwalter was third.
“There was a bunch of crashes, it’s kind of a miracle that we stayed up, we had good position. Me and Brent were just positioned really well, there were actually two crashes in the final 5 laps but in the last lap there was a really bad crash, just guys being way too aggressive from there we were sitting really well, I was probably fourth out of that corner, Brent gave me a nice little leadout to that corner and I jumped and I got the jump on them and made it to the line. It was pretty good, we had a good day, all the guys rode really well, we kept the jersey.” said Stewart.
“There was a crash and we were right next to it and Rory did an amazing job, I think it should have been the other way around, me leading out the sprints, he’s riding unbelievable. We didn’t have time to think, we just went for it, I was second out of the last corner on Rory’s wheel, 9 times out of ten I should have won that sprint so hats off to Jackson, he did a great sprint. ” said Pinfold.
The BMC team controlled the front of the race today with only a few breaks going up the road and kept their man Jeff Louder in the yellow jersey with only one stage to go. No changes in the GC, Louder leads Bissell’s Tom Zirbel by 7 seconds and Fly V Australia’s Ben Day by 9 seconds. Bookwalter still sits in fourth spot at 12 seconds back.
“It was impressive, I’m really proud of the guys, all seven of them stepped up and did a great ride. And then to have Jackson cap it off, that was just super impressive. I’m really happy for him, I knew that he had it in it, I’m just glad to see him do it, because I know he can do it and he did it, it’s kind of the comeback of Jackson Stewart, he’s won some big races and I think he can do more. ” said Louder.
Attacks were tried during stage raced on a highly technical, tight 9 turn 1-mile (1.6 km) course, but none of them stuck.
The BMC plan was to save a few guys for the hard Sunset Loop stage tomorrow and put the rest of the team at the front to control the 100+ rider field.
“Ideally, we wanted to save as many guys as we could for tomorrow, tomorrow is a really challenging day. Our game plan was to save Jeff obviously, me and Jackson for the sprint, that was sort of our second sort of criteria and it worked out well. I didn’t have to hit the wind hardly at all today, just moving up after my crash and did a couple of hard pulls at the beginning just to get the guys going.” said Bookwalter.
The team wanted to let a break go to make it easier to control but the combinations were never right.
“I feel like my biggest stress, I wanted to let something go, we were getting to the 45-minute mark and we couldn’t let anything go, the guys were riding too well. My biggest concern was that the guys were ridding too hard but obviously they were not because they could hold it the whole way.” said Louder.
The Ouch team amongst other were in the moves but nothing stuck.
“The strategy was to be aggressive, see what we an do. If BMC is going to win this race, they’re not going to win it easily so we still have a few cards to play, we’re still a little bit disappointed from yesterday and today is a little bit of a building block and tomorrow will be more of the same and hopefully we can win the overall. ” said Pinfold.
Multiple attacks were tried throughout the race
“One time we had a pretty big group out there with Ben Jacques-Maynes and originally we thought it was his brother so no sweat and then we got the word that it was Ben. But then it was really only one GC contender up there and we were still riding only two or three guys up there so we still felt very much in control and all the guys were confident. We were fine with the break going, even with Ouch, we were fine with lower guys on GC to go but too many guys wanted to go into the move.” said Bookwalter.
With five laps to go, the Jelly Belly came to the front to set up the leadout train for their man Brad Huff with the Colavita/Sutter Home train breathing down their necks.
“It’s such a hard race. Jelly Belly took the front, our plan was that we didn’t want to take the front of the race too early because it’s a long, long way and there’s a lot of wind so we thought maybe we’ll go and a lap and a half to go and we were moving up, Rory, myself, Tim and Karl Menzies, and it just seemed that it was one team trying to take the front from another team and it actually, it wasn’t that much faster, it’s just that guys were pinned on the inside and on the last minute swing out to take the corner and sometimes that works and sometimes that’s a recipe for disaster and that’s what happened today.” said Pinfold.
With two laps to go, Bissell’s Kirk O’Bee launched himself out solo out of the field and established a gap. The formed US Crit Champion was reeled with only 500 meters to go.
And then for the final lap, the Colavita/Sutter Home train that made its way to the front derailed in the first corner sending three guys to the tarmac.
‘We had four guys together and they were leading out Sebastian Haedo, he’s sprinting extremely well, he was fourth on the stage yesterday, I think that they just got tangled up in the first corner because I was kind of smoked from taking the sprints and riding easy and went around the corner and just saw three of them lying on the ground. I’m not really what happened but I know that they all are okay.” said Kyle Walmsley (Colavita/Sutter Home).
“It was chaotic, it was under control, the boys did an awesome job and relatively, things were in control today. A few scary moments, one of them on the last lap, I actually crashed at the same spot, earlier maybe like 20 minutes in and had to get a bike change. Fortunately, me and Jackson were still fighting for position, trying to hold our presence at the front, managed to squeak through, we were in perfect position for the end, it couldn’t have been any better.” said Bookwalter.
Coming in the stage, tied in fourth place in the sprints competition, 4 points behind Louder, Walmsley won the intermediate sprints points to grad the green jersey.
“I planned from the start of the day. The plan was to go early, get as many points as I could, I was tied for fourth coming into the stage. There are only points on the first two laps tomorrow, being a criterium and short distance rider, it’s good for me to get points in the crit and easy for me to get points in the first two laps tomorrow. The team was doing a really good job just moving me up to the sprints.” said Walmsley
Tomorrow 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 men endure 12 laps for 91 miles (146.5 km). (see google map of stage)
“Today was the day that everyone was worried about, the day that we felt a little underprepared maybe, we’re not necessarily a criterium team. Tomorrow is really the day that I feel the team is better suited, and I hope they’re going to build some confidence tonight and tomorrow afternoon, it should have some good strength and everybody is going to be up for it. It’s going to be hard, we can’t discount anybody.” said Louder.
The Redlands Bicycle Classic has been won and lost on Sunset Loop. With only 31 seconds separating the top 10 on GC, BMC will have its work cut out to defend they jersey against the onslaught from Ouch, Fly V Australia, Bissell and Rock Racing teams but Louder has confidence in his team.
“Everyone is going to have the same goal tomorrow, to make it hard on us, it’s up to us to try and really be defensive, be smart, be cool headed. I’m proud of everybody on the team, it inspires me, I don’t know if we can win tomorrow, I feel really good about it and I’m really confident and I think with luck and diligent riding we can do it, just even to be at the point we’re at, I’m really proud for the team.” concluded Louder.
Complete results here