In a repeat of the 2014 edition, the 2015 Redlands Bicycle Classic presented by San Manuel Band of Mission Indians revisited the tough City of Highland circuit race today, beginning five stages of what promises to be an exciting 31st edition of the race.
After an overnight rain, crisp morning air awaited the riders under blue skies, and riders began the neutral promenade from the San Manuel Village to the 2.8 mile-long circuit in the heart of the City of Highland. The course’s defining feature, as in years past, was the brief but difficult ascent up Baseline Rd. to its intersection with Church St., where the finish line awaited. The men’s professional peloton would complete 20 circuits for 58.1 miles, while the women polished off 41.3 miles after 14 laps.
The women’s race saw a high degree of aggressive racing, but the field refused to let a break stick, with United Healthcare Pro Cycling and Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies well in control. The pace remained high, with the peloton’s numbers whittling down toward the race’s finish. Flavia Oliveira (Visit Dallas p/b Noise4Good), Coryn Rivera (United Healthcare) and Mara Abbott (LA Sweat) launched a convincing attack on the final lap over the climb, but would get vacuumed up by the field and the finish came down to a field sprint. Alison Jackson (Twenty16 p/b SHO-AIR), racing in her first NRC event and after crashing with two laps to go, came around Abbott in the uphill sprint to the finish just before the line to take the win over the veteran American, with Brianne Walle (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) rounding out the sprint finish.
As the men took to the course, the initial frenzy for the day’s early breakaways would see various teams send riders off for short-lived forays off the front. Midway through the race, Brendan Rhim (Cal Giant-Specialized) jumped to a one-minute advantage over the peloton, while Cortlan Brown (Astellas), Griffin Easter (Airgas-Safeway) and Alexander Ray (Silber Pro Cycling) put up a chase that never closed the gap to the lone rider more than 20 seconds. With three laps remaining and Rhim holding a minute advantage, Jamis-Hagens Berman and Hincapie Racing decided it was time to bring the lone rider back, and he was caught with one lap to go, setting up the mass-sprint finish in the race.
As the race crested the Baseline climb for the final time across the line, Jamis’ Sebastian Haedo followed an early sprint from Travis McCabe (Team Smartstop), and in a repeat of Jackson’s victory over Abbott in the women’s stage, came around McCabe in the closing meters to take the stage victory. Last year’s stage winner, Dion Smith (Hincapie Racing) rounded out the men’s podium in third.
Tomorrow’s scheduled stage is the Big Bear Time Trial, another 2014 stage replaying its role this year. The 7.8 mile out-and-back course on the north shore of Big Bear Lake is a challenging one, featuring rolling terrain at a lung-busting elevation of approximately 6800ft in the San Bernardino Mountains. The first woman’s racer is off at 11:30 am, with the men following at 1:15 pm.
This year’s event will be held April 8 – 12, 2015 in Redlands, CA and surrounding cities. The race features professional men and women’s races that will include five days of racing, beginning with a Circuit Race in the Highland on Wednesday, a time trial at Big Bear Lake on Thursday, a grueling road race in the scenic City of Yucaipa on Friday, wrapping up in Redlands with a criterium Saturday, and the famous Sunset Road Race on Sunday.
Redlands Bicycle Classic Grieves Loss of Racer
The staff of the Redlands Bicycle Classic presented by San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and the cycling community are grieving the tragic loss of Erica Greif, a 24-year-old cyclist en route to race in the Redlands Bicycle Classic who was killed in an auto accident on Tuesday night.
Redlands Bicycle Classic President Bob Peppler had consoling remarks for the ZOCA-Halo Sports Hedrick racing team cyclist, who called the tragedy heartbreaking.
“It is with a great sense of sadness that we learned of the passing of Erica Greif as she was on her way to The Redlands Bicycle Classic. Bicycle racing is a small family, and Redlands is a community that has many close ties to the cycling world. We send our deepest sympathy and regret to the friends, family, and teammates of this bright young star in the sport of cycling”.
Organizers said Greif, a Category 2 rider, was the recipient of USA Cycling’s Edmund R. Burke grant, which is awarded annually to a promising under-23 cyclist. She had been racing for over three years. She was a student at the University of Nevada-Reno, majoring in nutrition and dietetics, set to graduate this spring, and was recently engaged to cyclist Nick Schaffner.
For more information, including race times, distances, and volunteer opportunities, visit www.redlandsclassic.com.
Photo Copyright Frank Sarate / SoCalCycling.com