Looking to start the USA racing season off with a bang following a successful team camp in Nevada City, California, Team SmartStop is sending a strong eight-man team to the Redlands Bicycle Classic.
The five-day stage race begins on Wednesday 8th April and will cover roughly 300 miles with the inclusion of a summit finish up Oak Glen this year.
The National Racing Calendar season opener is set to be another exciting race, Team SmartStop will be hoping to better last year’s results where Travis McCabe won the third stage and wore the yellow jersey until the final Sunset Loop stage.
Sporting Director, Michael Creed, believes that the addition of Oak Glen will add a new element and test the team on stage three: “With Oak Glen now featured we don’t have a Phil Gaimon or a Chris Horner so I expect those teams to take responsibility with the summit finish as we are going to be a little out of our depth on that.”
“It’s the first time we have gone up this way of Oak Glen so obviously it is a little untested but it will give the race a summit finish but it will definitely add a different dynamic which I am excited to see.”
Five of the eight-man roster (alongside three other teammates) have been training hard in Nevada City for the past two months in preparation for the Redlands Bicycle Classic and upcoming USA Pro Criterium and Time Trial National Championships.
Bobby Sweeting, who will play a key role in the teams success at both Redlands and the TTT National Championships said: “Being able to come to Nevada City has helped the team prepare for Redlands in a lot of ways. Having rural roads to do long motor pacing sessions on is really beneficial. And being in a place where you can do time trial work around the Beale Airforce Base while also having access to the big mountains is really convenient.”
Evan Huffman, who will be targeting the Big Bear Time Trial at the Redlands Bicycle Classic said: “The Nevada City training camp was helped with my preparation for Redlands a lot. It’s been good to get together with most of the team and do a lot of specific training on the time trial bike and behind the motorbike.
“The roads and terrain were great and the weather really couldn’t have been any better so everyone got in all the training they needed.”
The camp, hosted by former professional cyclist Duane Strawser and the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce, saw the team train on some of the best terrain in Northern California on both Road and Time Trial bikes.
“It was productive,” said Creed, “it was a lot of quality, we didn’t go overboard and hopefully we did enough.”
There was plenty to choose from when it came to riding, with Nevada City and the surrounding areas boasting plenty of climbing, the guys had great opportunities to put in a lot of miles behind the scooter in preparation for the coming races.
“I enjoyed the ride up Pleasant Valley Road from 20 to 49. You cruise around Lake Wildwood and along the South Yuba River as you climb up to 49, it’s just beautiful,” said Sweeting, “Nevada city has a bit of everything, with big mountains to the east and flat roads to the west. We were here for two weeks and every day was 65-75 degrees and sunny, so the training consistency has been really good.”
Huffman also enjoyed the ride down 49: “My favorite ride we did was the out-and-back on Highway 49 towards Downieville. The climbs and awesome views of mountains, trees and rivers keep it interesting all day.”
“I love riding around Nevada City. The roads tend to be more on the mountainous side, but you can get down to some more rolling to flat terrain quite easily. There is very little traffic and beautiful scenery.
The hospitality of Nevada City and neighboring Grass Valley was absolutely incredible and Strawser did a great job in keeping the team entertained both on and off the bike. Creed said: “The town treated us amazingly, every night there was something to do, a different coffee shop and somewhere to eat at and I cannot wait to come back here for the Tour of California.”
Nevada City will play host to the start of stage two of the Amgen Tour of California on May 11 for stage two and Team SmartStop cannot wait to get back here to race.
Redlands Bicycle Classic Roster
Redlands Bicycle Classic Stages
Wednesday 8th April Stage one: Highland Circuit Race – 58.1 miles
Thursday 9th April Stage two: Big Bear Time Trial – 7.8 miles
Friday 10th April Stage three: City of Yucaipa Circuit Road Race – 75.9 miles
Saturday 11th April Stage four: City of Redlands Criterium – 1 mile course, 90 minutes
Sunday 12th April Stage five: Sunset Road Race – 94.1 miles
Photo courtesy Team SmartStop