Canyon Bicycle Pro Cycling’s Francisco “Paco” Mancebo crossed the line seconds ahead of a chasing bunch that included Holowesko | Citadel’s TJ Eisenhart to win the final stage in downtown Redlands. Steve Fisher (Canyon) finished second, 14-seconds behind Mancebo, with Axeon Hagens Berman Jhonnatan Narvaez in third. Eisenhart held on to secure the over GC victory.
“It was every team attack, attack, attack,” Eisenhart said at the finish. “If they had teammates up there, they would still attack. It just makes it more special when you really, really deserved it and the team worked really hard for it. I’m extremely stoked by this.”
Many attempts at a breakaway began right from the start of the day, under looming clouds that soon dropped spurts of rain and hail as temperatures pummeled. About mid-way through the stage, a break of nine finally escaped. Mancebo, Alex Cataford (UHC), Kyle Murphy (Cylance), Kaler Marshall (Canyon), Tom Soladay (Rally), and Taylor Sheldon (Jelly Belly) were among them.
Photos © Christy Nicholson / EchelonDesignPhoto.com
Not long before the final KOM, Mancebo and Sheldon attacked the break, gaining a gap. Sheldon held onto Mancebo’s wheel until the final 3 laps heading up Sunset when Mancebo picked up the pace and Sheldon was unable to follow.
“My goal was to get to the circuit solo, after working so hard all day,” Mancebo said. “I didn’t know how many laps I had to go before the final because my Garmin was dead. I didn’t know if I was at the finish or not. When it started raining, that was the moment to try and get the GC. It didn’t work, almost but we won the stage.”
Mancebo soon had a two-minute lead ahead of the main field with Eisenhart, which made him the virtual leader up until two laps to go when Holowesko picked up the chase. Holowesko set pace throughout the grueling day, delivering Eisenhart in the chasing bunch to seal his overall victory.
“We didn’t get any leeway from any team at all,” Eisenhart added. “Paco was aggressive all day, attacking, attacking, attacking. We finally let him go, thinking we’ll control it. We weren’t expecting him to attack the breakaway! That was very, very impressive, extremely hard but typical Paco. He made us work really hard.”
The GC victory was the second stage win for Holowesko, after Robin Carpenter won Joe Martin at the start of the season. It is the first overall GC victory for Eisenhart.
Alex Cataford was the winner of the King of the Mountain classification after earning points in the breakaway most of the day. Gage Hecht (Aevolo Cycling) won the sprinting points classification, while Matt Zimmer of Gateway Harley Davidson earned the overall best amateur classification.
Ruth Winder won the Sunset Loop Road Race Sunday after bridging across to a three-rider break in the latter portion of the 68-mile Redlands Classic finale, which looped around downtown area. The move launched the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling rider to overall victory after starting the day in third place, 1:43 down on Amber Neben (Dare To Be Project).
Neben dropped to second and Katie Hall (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling) finished third overall.
“I need a moment for it all to sink in,” Winder said after the finish. “I don’t believe it right now. I have an amazing bunch of teammates who helped me every step of the way. It’s just incredible. Our plan worked out perfectly.”
Winder’s teammate Lauren Hall soloed to second and Jasmin Duehring (ShoAir Twenty20) coasted across the line in third after crashing in the final corner.
Hall and Duehring were part of an early break along with Brianna Walle (Tibco) and Claire Rose (Visit Dallas DNA) who attacked early on in the stage. The advantage fluctuated between 2 and 3 minutes before shattering on the final climb. Winder bridged across to Hall and Duehring with 10km to go.
Hall was dropped a few kilometers later and Winder time trialed to the finish with Duehring on her wheel. Meanwhile, Neben tried to limit her losses in the bunch knowing Winder had a large enough gap to take her yellow jersey.
“UnitedHealthcare had such a good team I knew it would be difficult to win the overall,” Neben said. “I was just one person. I gave a little, but there wasn’t much I could do. I was surprised I held on to the jersey as long as I did. When you get to the last day, you want to be able to finish with it, so I’m disappointed in that sense. UHC raced a great race, so I’m happy I did as well as I did.”
Katie Hall claimed first in the mountains classification. Claire Rose took home the sprinter jersey for Visit Dallas DNA and Amy D Foundation’s Heidi Franz finished first in the best amateur competition.