Here we go, the official start of the US professional racing season is here, not that there hasn’t been some hard racing before. The 25th Redlands Bicycle Classic brings together a very strong field of pro men and women vying for the overall win.
Returning champion and always a force to be reckoned with, German National Road Champion Ina Teutenberg (HTC-Columbia) is back with her 5-rider team. Teutenberg single-handedly recouped a deficit of over one minute and twenty seconds on the final day of the San Dimas Stage Race to win the overall.
“We want to win it again. We want to win every race otherwise we wouldn’t come.” said Teutenberg about Redlands after her win at San Dimas. “It’s a good field, it’s good competitors. Like yesterday, if you make a big mistake you probably normally don’t win the race. This weekend we were lucky but next week we can’t really afford to make mistakes like this.”
But she will face strong competition, starting with twice-winner (2006, 2007) Amber Neben who will be racing as a guest rider with the BMW-Bianchi team.
“I think Amber will be stronger than last year because she did Tour of New Zealand already, she had a bit of a frustrating season last year, she had a couple of bad crashes, surgeries. I’m sure it’s like Judith [Arndt], she’s way motivated in the new season. She for sure will be the one to beat next week.” said Teutenberg.
Winner in 2008, Alex Wrubleski is back with the Webcor Builders team, a squad that did not race at San Dimas. Joining her will be Katheryn Mattis, a strong TTer. Showing great form at San Dimas is Mara Abbott and her Peanut Butter Co TWENTY12. Abbott has finished on the podium before, is this the year that she takes over the top step?
In the mix will be Team VBF with Robin Farina who was on her way to a top place overall at San Dimas when struck by a flat tire on the final laps. Farina along with her teammate Alison Powers will be a strong duo to watch for the overall, while teammate Alex Rhodes is always a danger in the breaks.
“I’m excited for Redlands.” said Farina after San Dimas. “We have Powers coming in and obviously [Alex] Rhodes is in great form so we definitely have some weapons.”
Also present will be Colavita/Baci a threat on both GC and sprint finishes and TIBCO/To The Top with the Miller ‘sisters’, Brooke Miller and US National Road Champion Meredith Miller. It should be an aggressive race from the get go.
Teams present also include Roosters p/b Edge Composite Wheels, Team Nanoblur‐Gears, Treads.Com/DFT, Veloforma, Specialized Mazda Samson, Trisports Cycling/Eclipse Racing, Third Pillar, NOW‐MS Society, Herbalife‐LaGrange, and Specialized D4W/Bicycle Haus. (See women roster)
While last year’s champion Jeff Louder (BMC) will not be present as he’s racing in Europe currently, the field is stacked with talent. San Dimas Stage Race winner Ben Day finished third in last year’s race and wants to move up the top step. He’ll be counting on his Fly V Australia team who controlled the race last weekend after grabbing the yellow jersey on the TT held the first day. His team can also be counted to be a threat in the sprint finishes.
Returning champions include Andy Bajadali (Kelly Benefit Strategies) who will not have a full 8-man squad to support him as his team is also racing internationally at the same time. Winner in 2006 Nathan O’Neill is back to racing with the Bahati Foundation which will also be fielding Floyd Landis at the race.
Contenders looking for that top step include Ben Jacques-Maynes (BISSELL) and his teammate Paul Mach who showed good form at the San Dimas race finishing third overall. Hopefully some of the team riders are over their serious bout of food poisoning. One can always count on Rory Sutherland and Chris Baldwin of the Unitedhealthcare p/b Maxxis to be in the mix and the always dangerous Luis Amaran (Jamis/Sutter Home). Others to watch include Mike Friedman on his first race with Jelly Belly, Francois Parisien (Spidetech), Alex Howes (Holowesko Partners).
Mountain Khakis should be a threat in the sprint finishes, Yahoo! Cycling Team is bringing Pat McCartny for the race, California Giant Specialized who had a great showing at San Dimas can be counted on to be in breaks.
Teams also present include Team Type 1, Trek-Livestrong, CRCA/Foundation, Williams Cycling, Warp9Bikes.com/Moontoast, Hagens Berman Cycling, Bikereg.com / Cannondale, Team Pista Palace, Herbalife LaGrange, Exergy, Adageo Energy Pro Cycling Team, Team Possabilities, NOW‐MS Society and Ride Clean/Patentit.com. (See men roster)
On Thursday March 25, 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. Fastest time last year was set by Day with 9.19 and Neben with 10.40.
Stage 1 on Friday is the The City of Beaumont Road Race, with a modified course from last year, as the course starts with a long loop which takes the riders up Banning Bench before returning to do 17 mile circuits where each loop includes the climb up to summit of Bogart County Park with an elevation of 3230 ft (985 m). The women do one big loop and 2 circuits for a total of 68 miles (109.4 km), while the men do one big loop followed by 4 circuits for a total of 105.7 miles (170 km). Last year the riders were buffeted by strong winds during this stage, and Louder won the stage out of a breakaway while the women’s stage finished in a bunch sprint won by Teutenberg.
Saturday March 27 is 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. The fast men and women will come out and we should see a battle of the old and new leadout trains. Last year, BMC’s Jackson Stewart took the win after a choatic final lap with crashes while Teutenberg took another field sprint, grabbing those important time bonuses.
Sunday brings 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). Last year’s stage winners Kyle Wamsley and Alison Powers are back with new teams.