Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY 12 animate the race
Redlands, CA - Once again it was the fierce heat that was a dominating factor in today’s first stage of the Redlands Bicycle Classic presented by PossAbilities. With temperatures topping 90 degrees, the challenging 24.1 mile scenic Beaumont circuit took its toll, shredding the field, and testing each of the 113 competitors.
With points for the Queen of the Mountains (QOM) competition as well as the Sprinter’s Jersey up for grabs on the first lap, the competition was fierce from the beginning. Despite HTC-Highroad’s tactic of riding tempo to protect their first and second place in the General Classification, each of the team’s behind in the overall took turns attacking them, keeping the pace high and leaving little time for recovery.
By the second lap, the high pace, hot weather and undulating terrain had already whittled away at the field. Midway through the second lap, Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY 12’s Tayler Wiles aggressively attacked, forcing HTC to give chase. As they caught her on the climb, the counter attacks came fast and furious, but down the descent and through the high speed zone into the start finish the field was once again gruppo compacto.
Heading into the final lap, Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY 12 once again took the initiate and sent a rider up the road for the win. This time it was Alison Starnes motoring up the road, with the heat waves shimmering between her and the peloton. Initially there was little reaction from the field, and Starnes’ lead grew steadily to 1:15. However, on the climb, HTC’s Amanda Miller and Evelyn Stevens forced the pace, catching Starnes as they crested the climb, with only a small group of ten remaining.
As the various groups roared down the descent into the final miles of the race, the rejoining began and soon there was a group of about 40 heading into the finish for the final gut wrenching effort to the line.
As the group flew around the final corner, it was Colavita/Forno D’Asolo’s Theresa Cliff-Ryan with a big acceleration out of the field for the win, ahead of Christina Gokey-Smith (Rouse). Jen Purcell (Danbury Audi) rounded out the top three.
"All in all, today was a good race," Cliff-Ryan remarked afterward. "There were a couple of crashes on the course, so that brought some chaos, but we were successful. I was stuck in the middle about 150 meters before the turn, but I saw a space, so I took it. It was a major team race today. We were talking, looking after each other, and Janel stayed with me on the last hill, helping me stay relaxed. Redlands has a big history, so this was a great race to start off our season."
With HTC still having a stranglehold on the overall, tomorrow’s 60 minute criterium looks to be another opportunity for everyone from third place back to grab some time bonuses or try a move to gain a spot on the GC ladder to the top.
In the men's race, John Bennett (California Giant Team) would take the hotly contested Stage 1 prize just ahead of Lachlan Morton (Chipotle Development) and Andres Diaz (Team Exergy).