Race Report: San Dimas Stage Race – By Jon Hornbeck, Holowesko | Citadel

The San Dimas Stage Race always lands the week leading into the Redlands Classic.  It’s a pretty standard set up with an uphill Time Trial on Friday, Road Race (circuit) on Saturday, and a typical Downtown Crit on Sunday.  I do this race most years as it’s close to home, but this year the one main thing I noticed was that most everyone which will be racing Redlands came here as well.  That seems to be a hit or miss with guys wanting to do it or not.  From what I could tell though besides our Holowesko /Citadel Team not being there; they were busy cleaning house in Alabama, so I was solo here.  Rally / Optum wasn’t on hand as well besides good ole Tom Soladay.  Most teams seemed to be present.  I’m sure there are other teams that will be on hand next week that weren’t at SDSR, but still I would say most of the field was here doing a little race prep.

So lets get into racing.  Friday I drove out to the TT going into a bit of the unknown.  I was just finishing up a good size training block, so I wasn’t quite sure how the legs would react in an explosive uphill effort.  I talked with my coach and we had a number I was going to shoot for to hold which seemed relevant to where I was at with my training lately.  Once the TT started I rode the first 7 minutes or so holding my effort and soon realized I was riding that with ease.  The second part of the TT I started to dump it and was really happy with what and how I was feeling.  At the end though, I ended up taking the first part way too easy so I didn’t put any spectacular time in, but in the big picture I was actually really happy with what I saw.  I believe I came out of this big block of training riding well and seeing numbers I haven’t seen in some time.  Lesson learned I guess, should’ve gone a bit more on feel on that one.

Rolling up to the starting line on Stage 2, I guess you could say it was a bit of a foreshadowing moment as we got ready to start at 1:15 and the race official announces that we will now have a 30 minute delay due to a horrendous crash in the women’s race which was just finishing up.  Time to go find some shade, as it was in the 90’s at this point.  Okay, back to the start for the finish. Normally we do 12 laps on this circuit with it being around 8ish miles, but due to our delay we hear we are now doing only 10 laps.  Already a short race it just got shorter, not too excited about that.  I was expecting this race now to be even more aggressive and for Team Jamis to have a big job on there hands with defending.  Some of the full squads here didn’t have too many guys in the top 5 or even top 10, so I was looking to see many attacks going and with myself not high on the leaderboard I could get into a move and see about making something happen.

As the race started and all 165 riders rolled out onto the circuit. I made sure to be at the front to be able to follow some moves.  To my surprise though it took about a good half a lap before attacks really started to go.  I also think it took about half a lap to hear the first crash.  On the second lap, I got into a move which looked to have some legs on it, but it didn’t last more then a lap as I looked back to see other riders more or less trying to bridge up or just the constant shuffle of riders moving forward made for the race to be fast and not let a group go.  Back in the field and onto the third lap, we went through the feed zone rather gingerly as most riders were trying to get bottles with it being a hot day and as we came out yet again another big crash.  Shocking.  I’m not sure the reasoning behind all these crashes because this is a Pro/1 only field so about half the riders are Professionals and the other half Elite/1 racers, so you would think most guys can handle a bike.  The course is though rather tricky with the constant road surface change, cones, fences, pot holes, technical turns, and everything else you could think of.  You add in some wind so now we’ve got cross, tail, head, and the heat.  Well I guess all those attributes add up to average a crash per lap.

But more importantly back to racing.  I believe it was lap 4 that we went pretty hard up the climb and a few guys got away, once we crested the top everyone seemed smoked for the moment, so I attacked and bridged up to the few guys that rode off.  Once I made it to them, I thought this could be another move that had some legs. Nope, we did almost a lap and came back.  I believe one of the problems with not having a break get established was that with the climb everybody wants to be at the front before, and about 3 km before the climb its down hill so everybody is racing to try and be at the front before the climb.  So every lap regardless who is at the front you have this constant push in pace before the climb, then the climb is always quick because it’s rather short.  Just my two cents on that.

Now we’re about half way through the race and we get the moto officials coming to the front neutralizing our race and slowing us down as we are about to catch and pass the other races which were started in front of us. Why they were started in front and not behind us, who knows.  Another lap done and I could tell that some guys we’re starting to feel the effects of the racing and heat.  We came down the finishing straight going into 4 to go and I hopped on the wheel of a buddy to move up to the front and saw a perfect opportunity to attack as the field slowed down and soon enough found myself back off the front with a real good group of guys.  This one I thought for sure could have a good chance as it was in the second part of the race and there was some real fire power in this move.  We actually made it over a lap but Team Jamis came to the front and shut this down.  With only 3 laps left the writing was on the wall with the fact that no group was going to be successful today.  Now it was time to just stay safe and make it to the finish.  With 2 laps to go the Lupus boys with Horner got on the front heading into the climb and lit it up pretty good, which was a bit of a wake up call going into the last lap.  As we regrouped for the last lap, I made sure to be at the front to make sure I was out of trouble and not behind any splits.  We hit the climb the last time fairly quickly, but I was happy to have no difficulty after my eventful race out in the heat.  As we came down the finishing straight, I slid towards the back and to the right side of the road as the traffic furniture can catch some guys out. Yep and it did with another crash 400 meters to go.  With a shorter race we came in under 3 hours and with the 165 riders starting only about 50 of us came in on same time in the front group and another 60 riders getting dropped or crashing out.

Driving back home I talked with my director and coach and it was agreed upon that after the carnage throughout the day to skip Sunday’s Crit and get one last good day of training in ahead of Redlands.  It was also a nice drive home as I listened to the race going on back in Alabama and how the Holowesko /Citadel boys just worked over everyone to take the win. They also did the same thing the very next day.  Looking forward to meeting up with everyone and getting back into the swing of things with the Team.  Well, next up is the Redlands Classic, lets go.

Jon Hornbeck, rides professionally for the Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team p|b Hincapie Sportswear Team and is also is the owner of  Spandex Stampede Cycling Fundo Events.  You can follow Jon on social media at @JonHornbeck.

Photo ©  Christy Nicholson / EchelonDesignPhoto.com

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