Watching the Redlands Criterium brought a sense of deja vu with last Sunday’s Incycle/Cannondale Old Town Grand Prix, the closing stage of the San Dimas Stage Race. Protecting the yellow jersey of Ben Day, the Fly V Australia squad lined up at the front of the field for most of the 90-minute crit with sprinter Hilton Clarke (Bahati Foundation) sitting right behind them waiting to pounce.
One difference however was the appearance of the UnitedHealthcare presented by Maxxis leadout train which took over the pace setting with nine laps to go.
“I was sitting on Fly V all night and once United took over, I had Matt Rice and Jason Donald with me and I just told them look just get in the middle of UnitedHealthcare and help them because I knew they might run short a little bit and I didn’t want one of them to be able to get all the way to the line.” said stage winner Clarke.
Sitting at the back of the UnitedHealthcare train were sprinters Andrew Pinfold and Jake Keough. One by one riders peeled off the front once their job was done leaving Rory Sutherland and Karl Menzies to rev up the speed even more on the final lap.
“Last lap we had some surges on the side from Jamis/Sutter Home but we were able to hold those guys off. Rory took it past the hairpin, maybe halfway through the lap. Karl took over and took me about four corners to go. Three hundred meters to go I head out, I knew Jake was on my wheel.” said Pinfold.
“Once Rory and Karl went with a lap to go, no one could move. I sat behind them and I really just guarded my position through the chicane area and the last corner I backed off them but really pushed into the last corner and I got a sweet run through it.” said Clarke.
With a short run, 150 meters, to the finish line the ninth and final corner is of prime importance on the technical course. The order into the turn was Pinfold, Keough who both went to the right handside and then Clarke who took the left line.
“I might have taken some lines, I was trying to protect the corner but trying to go faster at the same time, maybe not as fast as I would have liked but I knew Jake was there. Coming out of the last corner was a bit further than it is normally because of the headwind.”
“I held my nerves and really took a good line through the corner which won the race for me.” said Clarke.
Keough finished second and Pinfold third.
“Jake was close. We executed really well today, we lost to a faster sprinter but if we keep doing what we’re doing it’s going to result in some victories.” said Pinfold.
It was the first appearance, ever, of the leadout train for the duo of Pinfold and Keough who is new to the team.
“To be honest this is actually the first we sprinted. We raced San Dimas last week, it didn’t really go as we wanted, we got separated, it was chaotic. But this week we connected, the sprinters, the leadout guys, everything was really good. We’re just still dialing it in, I needed to pop off Pinner’s wheel a little more, I kind of dragraced it but it’s coming. “ said Keough.
Fly V Australia show. But before UnitedHealthcare took the front, it was the Fly V Australia show. Attacks were tried but nothing stuck as the Aussie train mowed everything down for 70 minutes. It was all to protect Day’s slim lead of less than one second.
“Just to control to discourage any big breakaways, anyone taking time from Ben, just to give Ben as smooth a ride as possible to keep that pace nice and steady so we weren’t having to jump and attack and attack and over stuff, just that really high pace to discourage everyone.” explained Phil Zajicek (Fly V Australia) about the team’s strategy.
With the clock ticking down the minutes, chances were taken as riders tried to move up the field on a very tight course which unfortunately sometimes ended up in crashes.
“The last twenty or thirty minutes, it got a little kamikaze out there, they were a few people butting heads this morning saying let’s make this do or die, maybe a few people were left out on the course today. “ said Day.
One such crash happened with 10 laps to go and involved twenty riders including Day who was caught behind and second-place on GC Ben Jacques-Maynes (BISSELL). Riders involved were given a free lap and re-joined the peloton on the next lap.
Fly V Australia received an unexpected bonus for their work done at the front. Jay Thomson, who took his turn at the front, picked enough points in the four Sprints to get the green sprinter’s jersey at the end of the day.
War. Another difference from the San Dimas Grand Prix is that the race is not over, not by a long shot. The final stage of the Redlands Bicycle Classic is the brutal 94.1 miles (151.4 km) Sunset Road Race. The yellow jersey has been won and lost in the past on this stage.
“I pretty much had a couple of days on the wheels, I did my job on the first day and it’s going to be my job to finish it off tomorrow. “ said Day.
Day still leads the general classification with six tenths of a second on Jacques-Maynes. Then a trio of Jelly Belly p/b Kenda, Will Routley at one second down, Carter Jones at two seconds and Kiel Reijnen at four seconds. Sutherland sits in sixth spot at six seconds down.
With 35 riders within one minute, it’s going to be war out there.
“It’s going to be a pretty interesting day,” Day said. “Sunset Loop is such an iconic and difficult stage to race anyways and there’s a lot at play with the time bonuses. I expect there are going to be plenty of fireworks.”
“Fly V Australia is showing that they are one of the strongest team in the country right now and it’s not easy to do what they’re doing and it’s almost hopeless to attack them at the moment that’s how strong they are. But boy they have their work cut out tomorrow, we’ll really how strong they are tomorrow.” said Clarke.
Zajicek is ready. “I’m really excited, it’s going to be great, it’s going to be awesome. I can’t wait, I wish we were going to do it right now.” he laughed. “It’s going to be good.”
Top 10 Stage 2 Results
1. Clarke, Hilton Bahati Foundation Pro Cycling 1:29:14 11
2. Keough, Jacob UnitedHealthcare pb Maxxis ”
3. Pinfold, Andrew UnitedHealthcare pb Maxxis ”
4. Friedman, Mike Jelly Belly P/B Kenda ”
5. Borrajo, Alejandro Jamis Sutter Home/Colavita ”
6. Kreder, Raymond Holowesko Partners U23 ”
7. Cantwell, Jonathan Fly V Australia ”
8. Hanson, Kenneth Team Type 1 ”
9. Candelario, Alex Kelly Benefit Strategies ”
10. Dionne, Charles Fly V Australia ”
Top 10 GC After Stage 2
1. Day, Benjamin Fly V Australia 5:51:58
2. Jacques-Maynes, Ben Bissell Pro Cycling ”
3. Routley, Will Jelly Belly P/B Kenda @ 00:01
4. Jones, Carter Jelly Belly P/B Kenda @ 00:02
5. Reijnen, Kiel Jelly Belly P/B Kenda @ 00:04
6. Sutherland, Rory UnitedHealthcare pb Maxxis @ 00:06
7. Romero Amaran, Luis Jamis Sutter Home/Colavita @ 00:12
8. Vennell, Jeremy Bissell Pro Cycling @ 00:15
9. Mach, Paul Bissell Pro Cycling @ 00:19
10. Jenkins, Max UnitedHealthcare pb Maxxis @ 00:28
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