Downhill skier Alison Powers (Team Type 1) used her skills and her teammate’s words of wisdom to jump away from the field in the final 500 meters and safely navigate the final turns to win the final stage at the Redlands Bicycle Classic, the dreaded Sunset Road Race. Jo Kiesanowski (TIBCO) was second and Nikki Butterfield (Webcor Builders) was third across the line.
“The past few days I have actually been able to practice my sprints instead of always leading someone out. I know I need to go early. These corners are my specialty. When turned that corner I thought if I had a chance, that this was it, go for it, and see what happens. It was awesome. I was so lucky. ” said a very happy Powers.
German sprinter Ina Teutenberg (Columbia-High Road) was only 2 seconds off yellow jersey Amber Neben (Nurnberger Shoair) going into the Queen stage and won the intermediate time bonus of 3 seconds the fist time up the QOM climb to become virtual leader on the road. At that point, it was just a matter of defending her lead.
“I was babied today. I would not have been able to do it without them. They do it every other day. They lead me out to the line and make sure that I don’t do as much. You can’t do it without a team. We rode pretty easy at the bottom of the climb so it suited me because then it was a sprint.” said Teutenberg.
The 65.7 miles (105.7 km) Beaver Medical Group Sunset Road Race started off in downtown Redlands and took the riders through lap after grueling lap, for a total of 9 times, around the 6.2 miles (10.0 km) never-flat Sunset Loop before returning full speed ahead to the finish line in downtown Redlands.
The terrain and tempo took a toll early on the field as it splintered into many groups with the lead group decreasing in numbers to 24 riders.
:”There were a couple times when Amber drilled the pace. Over the QOM, Colavita were going for the points. That must have dropped some of the riders.” said Powers.
Powers came into the stage with the goal of defending her third place in the overall classification. But then opportunity knocked and Powers went for it.
“I know I could go faster, but my team mate Kori Seehafer crashed here two years ago in these corners. I had her words of wisdom to be careful. My slow is still some people’s fast. I tried to be careful on the last corner.”
So what is the secret that Seehafer shared? It’s all about the corners and the apex of the corners coming into the final two or three corners.
“It’s really rough if you hit the apex so you really need to make wide sweeping turns coming into the corners. Two years ago I was about to win the race. I crashed and broke my collarbone. Basically I hit the apex and it just slingshot me. If you are leading you get a gap through the corners because everyone has to break behind and the first one does not. Before we entered the circuit, TIBCO was trying to do a lead out but at one point they were kind of looking around at one another so Alison jumped ahead and because she was in the lead she could do the wide sweeping turns into the corners. No one could catch her to close the gap.” said Kori Seehafer (Team Type 1).
The TIBCO team came into Redlands with a focus on the general classification. While their highest-placed rider Lauren Tamayo finished in fourth place overall, TIBCO won the overall team classification.
“We would have loved to get one of us away. We had a couple of good digs in the last corners but unfortunately none of us were able to get away. We tried our best in the sprint. Our focus was to come here and win the overall. Stage wins are nice but our goal was definitely to win the overall. We came away winning the team GC so that shows how strong we are as a team. It was really good to be a part of this race.” said Kiesanowski.
The first priority of the Webcor Builders team was to keep Katheryn Mattis in the top 20 in the general classification.
“Once we were confident with that our goal became a stage win. We tried to attack off the front and I was away for awhile. Coming into the finish I tried to make sure to see Amber and Ina because I knew they would be watching each other. Katherine told me that TIBCO was planning on leading out and I just made plans to be near those people. It was a good decision going into the last corner.” said Butterfield.
Tiffany Cromwell (Colavita/Sutter Home) who was awarded the QOM jersey by mistake after stage 1, won enough points on Sunday’s stage to overtake Neben and win the Mountain Classification.