REDLANDS, Callif. (VN) — Alison Powers (NOW and Novartis) and J.J. Haedo (Jamis-Hagens Berman) rode to stage victories in Saturday’s downtown criteriums at the Redlands Bicycle Classic.
Powers remains in control of the women’s race, and Chad Haga (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) likewise defended his overall lead in the men’s race.
Saturday’s victory was the third straight for Powers at this year’s Redlands, and her first criterium win since last year’s Sea Otter Classic.
“This is crazy. They say that once you learn to win, and you have that confidence, it comes easily,” said Powers. “I wouldn’t say it’s easy. It’s all between your ears. If you have the confidence that you can do it, that’s really all that matters.”
Joelle Numainville (Optum) finished second, while Specialized-lululemon’s Loren Rowney took third.
“It was cool, man, I liked it,” said Numainville. “At the finish, Powers just had a little more momentum through the corners. I was right on her, she was fast, a little bit too fast.”
NOW and Novartis kept the race under tight control for Powers.
“The team was awesome again today, I didn’t have to do anything. Robin [Farina] was strong like a bull!” said Powers. It was also Lex Albrecht’s 26th birthday, so there were podium flowers and cupcakes in the NOW and Novartis camp.
Alison Tetrick (Exergy Twenty16) took an early flyer that lasted a few laps, but she never had much gap.
“I just started riding, and then I was off the front, so I just kept going,” said Tetrick.
Optum’s Denise Ramsden also spent a couple laps out in front, but it didn’t last and it was all back together for the final lap.
Specialized-lululemon’s Ally Stacher and Gillian Carleton drove the final lap in the hope of setting up Rowney. In the final corners, Powers went to the front and held it all the way to the finish.
“Ally did a great job keeping it fast,” said Rowney. “I was probably 10th wheel and Gillian came by and told me to get on her wheel. She brought me up to Powers. With three corners to go, I hesitated a little, and Alison just went. I tried to get around, but I just couldn’t.”
The general classification remains unchanged ahead of Sunday’s Sunset Road Race. Alison Powers leads Tayler Wiles (Specialized-lululemon) with Brianne Walle (Optum) third.
Haedo in a hurry
Jamis-Hagens Berman did a perfect job of delivering Haedo to the stage victory, taking over the race with around five laps to go.
“We decided before, if everything went okay, we would take control between five and seven laps to go, and that is what we did,” said Haedo. “It was a little bit early, but I think the guys had a little something left in the tank, so it was really good.”
Jelly Belly’s Brad Huff finished second, followed by Luis Amaran (Jamis-Hagens Berman).
For the first half of the race, 5-Hour Energy rode the front and kept things under tight control. They were hoping to grab a time bonus for Francisco Mancebo, who started the day four seconds behind race leader Haga. But it was no dice for Mancebo, and in fact, Haga picked a one-second time bonus in the sprint.
“That was the only time bonus on the day,” said Haga, who had help from the experienced crit racer Alex Candelario. “I just had to be ready. I got boxed in a little, but I did manage to beat Mancebo.”
The Redlands crit is always difficult, and this year’s edition was especially fast.
“It was put the suffer button on,” said Huff.
There were teams looking for results in the intermediate sprints for the points competition and the time bonuses. Consequently, the speed was high all day, and the few attacks did not gain much ground.
With nine laps to go a group of five — Eric Marcotte (Elbowz Racing), Bobby Lea (SmartStop), Jonathan McCarty (Bissell), Matt Green (Astelas Oncology), and Cole House (Cash Call Mortgage) — grabbed a small gap that held until five laps to go.
Then Jamis-Hagens Berman went to the front for Haedo and it was all back together for the run-in to the sprint.
In the final lap, Amaran jumped on the backstretch.
“I had Luis on the last lap, and I told him to attack with a half lap to go,” said Haedo. “He was really strong. He was strong enough to keep it and hold it for third. So it was a really good finish for us today.”
As for Huff, he said: “I’m stoked. It was a great team effort. I just did my best to weather the storm of the motorpacing crit. I was able to get up there, and with the help of Ricardo van der Velde on the last lap, he put me right on J.J.’s leadout train. I was really glad to get a podium spot.”
With the general classification unchanged, Haga was relieved to be done with the criterium stage and return to the hilly terrain he prefers.
“The race is filled with 150 guys and they’re all looking for a contract next year, so they’re taking risks and they’re fighting for position; that’s not my cup of tea,” he said. “The stress of fighting for position is the hardest thing for me.”
Mancebo sits runner-up at 5 seconds, with Tom Zirbel (Optum) third. It was not an entirely smooth ride for Zirbel, who flatted in the final laps. Because the mechanical happened within 3km to go, he received the same time as the bunch.
Sunday, the men and women race over the challenging Sunset Loop Road Race.
“Mancebo is going to try and win. It’ll be a hard day. We’ll have to be prepared for that,” said Haga. “That’s the hope, that my climbing legs will come out to play.”