Once again, the break stayed away in stage 1 of the Redlands Bicycle Classic, the 120.5 miles (193.2 km) Beaumont Circuit Race. Youngster John Bennett (CalGiant), who got noticed at the MERCO Credit Union Classic Race, outsprinted the two remaining riders in the move to take the win. Lachlan Morton (Chipotle Development Team) was second and Andres Diaz (Team Exergy) was third.
More photos in the race gallery
The action was furious from the start in the men’s race until finally on the second of the five 24.1 mile (38.8km) laps, 5 riders escaped. The group worked together with Phil Gaimon (Kenda5-Hour Energy) going for the KOM points while his teammate Roman Kilun took monster pulls. Bennett, Morton and Frank Pipp (BISSELL) split the sprinter points. The five stayed together until the final lap, when the heat and the long and tough stage took its toll. Diaz bridged up, closing a gap of around 1:30 and went straight to the front and one by one, riders were dropped until three remained. Bennett and Morton sat on Diaz’s wheel until the final dash to the line.
Meanwhile behind, yellow jersey Francisco Mancebo and his RealCyclist.com squad started to chase in earnest but could not close down the gap. On the final lap, the Jamis/Sutter Home team came into the rotation but pulled out after their leader Luis Amaran crashed going into the feedzone.
The GC is even tighter with two stages to go. Mancebo still holds a slim 1-second lead on Ben Jacques-MaynesChris Baldwin (BISSELL) and 3 seconds on (juwi Solar – First Solar). Diaz moved up to fourth at 6 seconds down. The battle will continue on the last two stages, the 90-minute City of Redlands Criterium on Saturday and the 94.1 miles (151.4 km) Sunset Road Race on Sunday. Both have time bonuses on the line.
Bennett takes over the green sprinter jersey and Gaimon now leads the KOM classification.
John Bennett (CalGiant). “This is a really big one. I know I can’t come around the top sprinters but I can sure as hell sprint with the climbers.”
About the break. “For the first few laps of the break, I guess everyone was more concerned with the KOM sprints and it’s why I think the break initiated. Then it was primarily myself and one of the Kenda riders setting the pace in the break, taking longer pulls. I wanted to stay away until the finish and he wanted to get his teammate the KOMs so stayed away through the fourth lap and we crested the KOM with 1:45, 2:00 maybe 1:30, and we cruised down to the finish going into the final lap and I kept drilling it. I think everyone else was hurting pretty good because I know I was, working all day.”
About the final lap. “Coming into the final lap, we hit the first climb and we lost the Kenda rider who had been working all day for his teammate and then, we were caught by the Exergy rider. He came in really strong and he was definitely spending some time at the front, helping us keep away for sure. He would take really long pulls and everyone else just rolled through and let him pull again just to give him a second to rest. We hit the climb after the feedzone and he just set tempo, I sat on him, the Chipotle sat on me and everyone else disappeared. We stayed away and everyone took turns setting tempo on the climb and once we hit the descent, I pretty much just sat on. I’d worked very hard keeping the break away all day. I knew if it came down to a sprint and we were able to stay away, I could come around those guys. Coming into the final corner, I sat on Garmin who was sitting on Exergy and Garmin came around Exergy and I just came around Garmin.”
Andres Diaz (Team Exergy). “On the fourth lap climb, the front group was 1:20 and I wait for one Fly V guy and we started working. And one little climb, he dropped. I got into the group, they didn’t help me and I had to do it for the overall and I started doing my best job, very concentrated. As soon as I looked back, we are just three guys, so at the last 10K, the Garmin guy started helping me and the last K, I had to do it by myself. “
Phil Gaimon (Kenda/5-Hour Energy). “We were all just going for breaks, taking turns and then I went, Pipp came with me and then Roman and a few other guys came across. Roman was a monster, he was taking giant pulls. I kind of expected we’d get caught so I went for the KOMs, they didn’t really contest me for them and I went for it. The last lap when Andres of Exergy came across, he just motored it, he just had so much more gas than everybody else. Roman came off, Pipp came off and then I came off. Sort of bummed, you don’t get an opportunity like that all the time. “
Gord Fraser, DS RealCyclist.com. “All we can do is our best on defending the jersey, it’s a real test for our guys, we have sprinters and we have young guys. Our real good all-arounders with experience are the guys we have to protect so it was kind of patchwork team to protect the jersey. We’re missing a few guys like a Matt Crane and Thomas Rabou who are still injured but the young guys Josh Berry and Oscar Clark did great, I’ve been hearing good things. Our sprinter core of Cole House, Tommy Nankervis, Frank Travieso and Yosvany Falcon did good work. Sure I’d like to be stronger and have more guys at the finish, reell it back and try to win the stage but all in all, the guys did a great job and they passed a pretty hard test. Whether or not they can continue to past these tests during Redlands is another matter but right now I’m happy as could be.”
About letting a break go. “For us, it was numbers that’s the key. It could be threatening guys, we don’t have a problem letting threatening guys go as long as there are not that many in the break. The first break had Matt Cooke but we weren’t too concerned as it was only three guys. You saw that when there was a break of 12, 15 guys, we had to spend a lot of energy to bring that back, it’s just a little bit unmanageable. The guys did a great job identifying what needs to be shut down and what needs to be feathered out. The team that did that last year to perfection was Fly V Australia, they had it down on getting a break that they wanted and that’s what I told the guys today. They have to dictate what break goes up the road and take charge in a tactical sense. They did a great job and like I said, you can’t be greedy, they did a great job, they did their best, they’re all really tired and tomorrow we’ll be back for more. “
About the crash. “It was on the first step towards the climb. What was important there is that we were getting help from Jamis/Sutter Home on behalf of Amaran and he’s the one who crashed. With that crash, the help that they provided was gone and it changed the dynamics of the race. Had anybody else crashed, it wouldn’t have been a big deal but that was a very telling part of the race, having that strong a team with that type of motivation to work, all of sudden taken away from them and us, that was a bit of back luck for us and more so, obviously, for them. “
Omer Kem, DS BISSELL. “Having second and fourth overall, we were going to set up behind the team that had to ride to try and control the race. I had a feeling that RealCyclist was going to struggle especially in the last three laps with maintaining control. I was a little surprised with Jamis/Sutter Home stepping up on the front and it probably has to do with Amaran. There was a large crash right before the feedzone, it looked like all the Jamis riders went down, Amaran included. Our definite game plan was put somebody in the move and it would prevent us from chasing and then make it really hard the last time over the climb. It just didn’t look like they could quite close the gap to those three because we were looking for those time bonuses, we’re a second out of first, we need the time bonus. We wanted to be in a better position going into Saturday and Sunday to defend rather than have to try and be aggressive.”
Stage 1 Results
1 John Bennett (California Giant-Specialized) 4:40:01
2 Lachlan Morton (Chipotle Development)
6 Jacob Rathe (Chipotle Development)
7 Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth)
8 Joseph Lewis (Trek-Livestrong)
9 Alejandro Borrajo (Jamis-Sutter Home)
10 Francisco Mancebo (Realcyclist.com)
GC After Stage 1
1 Francisco Mancebo (Realcyclist.com) 4:49:52
2 Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Pro Cycling) 0:00:01
3 Chris Baldwin (juwi Solar – First Solar) 0:00:03
4 Andres Diaz (Team Exergy) 0:00:06
5 Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Pro Cycling) 0:00:09
6 Jeremy Vennell (Bissell Pro Cycling) 0:00:14
7 Cesar Grajales (Realcyclist.com)
8 Bernard Van Ulden (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) 0:00:15
9 Tyler Wren (Jamis-Sutter Home) 0:00:16
10 Darren Rolfe (V Australia) 0:00:17