Schneider and Williams Sweep Downtown
Redlands Crit for L39ion of Los Angeles
In the first showdown between the two powerhouse crit squads – L39ion of Los Angeles and Denver Disrupters – it was Cory Williams for L39ion that outsprinted Denver’s Noah Granigan to win stage 4 of the Redlands Bicycle Classic. The two teams had fought hard throughout the 90-minutes of racing, escaping the mayhem of crashes that ensued with such a large field on the circuit. Cade Bickmore racing for Project Echelon finished third. Tyler Stites (Project Echelon) finished safely in the field sprint, retaining yellow for Sunday.
“It was a bit hectic but I have a lot of calmness with my team around me, I always knew they would deliver me to the line,” Williams said. “Today was my day to pull it off for the team. It was my first time battling Denver, especially in a crit. Its nice to show them that this is our turf, maybe next time for them.”
In their traditional move, L39ion was quick to establish their squad on the front of a long, strung-out field. There were several crashes that disrupted the tempo, the first taking place on the second lap followed by a few others midway through the stage. Denver’s Sergio Henao went down early on but managed to finish unharmed. Project Echelon had several go down in the early crash, but finished with only minor road rash. Neither Stites or Ricky Arnopol who was second on GC at the start of the day were affected for Project Echelon.
“I just tried to stay in a good position and avoid crashes to stay safe and rest up for tomorrow,” Stites said after finishing. “I saw a bunch of crashes but I think everyone is okay. Luckily none of them involved me. Tomorrow is a tough course to defend on but we’re up for the challenge.”
The GC remains the same for the top three, with Stites retaining a 9-second lead ahead of teammate Ricky Arnopol. U23 and Best Amateur leader, AJ August is third 12-seconds down. Robin Carpenter was able to seize a few seconds on the intermediate bonus to decrease his deficit by 2 seconds, trailing Stites by 40 seconds overall.
There were no KOM points available on Saturday’s crit, but the race remains extremely close. Evan Boyle (Aevolo) leads Conn Mcdunphy (SoCalCycling.com Team) by a point with 21 points overall in the classification, Stites is just behind with 19. The men will begin the final Sunset Loop stage on Sunday at 14:00 PDT after the women’s finish.
AJ August came in 7th on the stage in 18:10, another stellar performance from the Hot Tubes Development team rider. August continues to have a solid ride at Redlands, as he hone’s his road racing skills coming from an impressive junior cross background.
“This is my third full season on the road, I grew up doing cyclocross,” August said, a past junior USA national cyclocross champion and Koppenbergcross winner. “I think the skill sets I got from cross really help me on the road. The cold and the wet felt right at home yesterday.”
The 17-year-old has moved up to third only 12 seconds down on GC, and 34 seconds ahead of Robin Carpenter (L39ion of Los Angeles) in fourth.
“It was really windy; I think everyone was struggling with it. I haven’t had too much time on the TT this year so to do a solid ride, I was pretty happy.”
Downtown Redland’s Stage 4 will be one for the sprinters in the bunch. The men will race the criterium in the late afternoon following the pro women, before it all comes down to Sunset Loop on Sunday.
L39ion of Los Angeles’ Skylar Schneider sprinted to the line earning her first victory in her debut at the Redlands Bicycle Classic, in L39ion’s first race of the year. The California-based team were heavy favorites coming into the crit, a racing format where the team has found great success over the last couple of years. Schneider had been in a two-rider breakaway with Virginia Blue Ridge Twenty24 Emily Ehrlich that made it to the line, moving Ehrlich into the overall GC lead with her second place finish. Schneider’s sister Samatha won the field sprint for third.
“I was trying not to interfere with the overall, letting Emily race her race and I raced mine,” Skylar said. “This is our [L39ion] first race of the year so I haven’t had an opportunity to unleash the sprint; I really wanted to see how it felt. To see Sam win the field sprint, putting two of us on the podium is pretty awesome. We were looking forward to today.”
The women raced for 75-minutes that included an intermediate time bonus, another time bonus available on the line and five sprint point opportunities. The GC had been extremely close, with Patobike’s Marcela Prieto holding a mere 2-second advantage over Twenty24’s Melisa Rollins and 12-seconds ahead of Ehrlich.
The first sprint points available were placed at 15 minutes into racing. Our sprint classification leader, Holly Breck (DNA Pro Cycling) launched her sprint to earn top points ahead of Rylee McMullen (Instafund Racing) who was close behind. The two would battle it out throughout the stage, as McMullen inched ever so close to stealing the jersey. Breck was able to retain the lead at the end of the day, holding a 3-point lead over McMullen and 9-points ahead of Skylar Schneider.
Skylar was the first to escape for L39ion 20 minutes into racing, making it several laps before the field reined her back in. The GC had been tight ahead of stage 4, with the top 4 within 20-seconds of one another. DNA Pro Cycling had both Shayna Powless and Anet Barrera just over a minute down, looking to snatch time bonuses. All three teams – DNA, Twenty24, and L39ion – were battling for control of the field when Skylar jumped again, this time taking Emily Ehrlich with her in the final 10 laps.
The duo drove away from the field, increasing their gap to over 40 seconds. Barrera tried desperately to bridge with eight laps to go but was alone in the chase before returning to the field in the final laps.
As Schneider and Ehrlich came around the corner for the finish, Ehrlich did not contest the win since Schneider was not a threat to the GC. The field sprinted to the line 42-seconds later, with Samantha Schneider crossing for third.
“My whole goal being out front was trying to get as much of a gap as I could,” Ehrlich said. “I didn’t expect to have an even effort in the breakaway because I was the only one that wanted the seconds. I worked really hard for them. I was going for seconds, she was going for the win so we had incompatible goals but that’s how it goes sometimes.”
It all comes down to the Sunset Loop stage of the 2023 Redlands Bicycle Classic on Sunday. Ehrlich leads Marcela Prieto of Patobike by 39-seconds. Melisa Rollins and Laurel Quiñones are tied for third 1:18 down from their teammate. The women will commence their battle at 10 AM PDT.
Top Photo – Cory Williams (L39ion of LA) win the criterium in Downtown Redlands.
Photos Christy Nicholson / EchelonDesignPhoto.com