Photo: Charles Pelkey

Green (L) added to his overall lead Thursday, besting Leipheimer and Horner by more than half-a-minute.

Green (L) added to his overall lead Thursday, besting Leipheimer and Horner by more than half-a-minute.

Photo: Charles Pelkey

Roland Green seemed pleasantly surprised on Tuesday as he won the opening time trial at the Redlands Bicycle Classic. The Volkswagen-Trek mountain-bike racer slipped on the leader’s jersey and figured he would be working for the next few days to hand it off to one of his (temporary) U.S. Postal Service teammates. But Green may have taken a big step to keeping the jersey on Thursday as he finished the Sun Highland time trial stage a full 37 seconds ahead of his teammate Levi Leipheimer and 40 up on 2000 Redlands winner Chris Horner (Mercury-Viatel).

Meanwhile 19-year-old Canadian sensation Genevieve Jeanson continued on her relaxed ride to the final podium, finishing the women’s time trial in 29:27, nearly half a minute ahead of Saturn’s Kimberly Bruckner. Like Green, Jeanson solidified her lead in the overall standings on the eve of Redlands’ most difficult stage, the race to a hilltop finish at Oak Glenn.

Thursday’s 19.9km time trial took a rolling, twisting tour from the suburban development of Highland into the nearby hills and through acres and acres of citrus groves. “I like this course,” said Jeanson. “It was super fun. It’s so much better than just an out-and-back. The wind, the hills it all made for a nice challenge.”

Jeanson’s biggest challenge must have come from the wind and the terrain, because she easily made time on Bruckner and 2000 Redlands winner Alison Dunlap, who started at one-minute intervals ahead of her.

“She’s amazing,” said Dunlap of the rail-thin Canadian. “I don’t know where she gets it. She doesn’t even have any legs.”

Legs or no, Jeanson reached the halfway mark closing in on Bruckner, who in turn was catching sight of Dunlap. As the course dropped through a twisting, technical section, the three were within 40 seconds of each other.

“I was sure I could catch Kim,” said Jeanson. “I was at about 17 seconds behind her but I think when she spotted Alison, she really accelerated.”

Jeanson, of course, didn’t need to catch anyone to take the win. She finished her 19.9km in 29:27, 28 seconds better than Bruckner. Jeanson solidifies her hold on the yellow leader’s jersey. Bruckner, who moved into second place in the overall standings after her teammate Lyne Bissette withdrew due to injuries sustained in a crash at the finish of Tuesday’s stage, maintained her spot in the general classification.

Later, Green turned in a solid performance, outracing a field of strong time trialists to solidify his grip on the leader’s jersey. Green admitted he was again “a little surprised,” by his performance, though he said he had been hoping to finish “somewhere in the top three.”

Though a mountain-bike racer, Green was quick to point out that his event doesn’t differ all that much from road racing, especially the time trial.

“We both specialize in riding at the threshold,” Green said.

It’s just his was a little higher threshold than most. As the Postal squad’s top rider at Redlands, the team apparently pulled out the big guns for their new rider and sent him off on one of Trek’s new carbon fiber time trial bikes, debuted last year at the Tour de France, when only Lance Armstrong and Tyler Hamilton were able to ride the new OCLV machines.

“I hadn’t ridden it before today,” Green said. “It’s a great bike.”

He also opted for some serious gears, setting it up with a 56×11, “though on the way back, with the headwind, I was only able to push the 12.”

While Green said on Tuesday that he would never consider asking his Postal teammates to sacrifice their chances at a win to protect his jersey, the issue became a bit cloudier as he enters tomorrow’s Oak Glen stage with a 40-second advantage over second-placed Leipheimer and nearly a minute over last year’s winner Chris Horner of Mercury.

“Their job will be to get their climbers — in this case it has to include Roland and Levi — to the base of the last climb refreshed and in good shape,” said Horner. “Of course, our job will be to make them work for it. A lot of questions will be answered by tomorrow.”

Horner said he was confident that the Mercury team could mount a more than credible challenge to Postal’s hold on the jersey.

“If we have the jersey going into (Sunday’s final stage), we’ll keep it,” Horner said. “If they have it they’re going to have to really work to keep it.”

2001 Redlands Classic. Sun Highland Time Trial.

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2001 Redlands Classic. Sun Highland Time Trial.

1. Genevieve Jeanson (Can), Rona, 19.9km in 29:27 (40.54kph);
2. Kimberly Bruckner (USA), Saturn, 29:55;
3. Alison Dunlap (USA), GT, 30:49;
4. Kim Smith (USA),, 31:08;
5. Katrina Berger (USA),, 31:19;
6. Jeannie Longo (F), Sun International, 31:53;
7. Anne Samplonius (Can), Intersports, 31:56;
8. Annie Gariepy (Can),, 31:58.043;
9. Catherine Cardwell (USA), 31:58.199;
10. Tina Mayolo-Pic (USA),, 32:01.

Overall after three stages

1. Jeanson, 4:02:42;
2. Bruckner, at 1:05;
3. Dunlap, at 2:12;
4. Smith, at 2:41;
5. Berger, at 2:57

1. Roland Green (Can), U.S. Postal Service, 26:23;
2. Levi Leipheimer (USA), U.S. Postal Service, 27:00;
3. Chris Horner (USA), Mercury-Viatel, 27:04.677;
4. Chris Wherry (USA), Mercury-Viatel, 27:04.733;
5. Scott Moninger (USA), Mercury-Viatel, 27:07;
6. Michael Rogers (Aus), Mapei, 27:12;
7. Chann McRae (USA), Mercury-Viatel, 27:19;
8. Trent Klasna (USA), Saturn, 27:27;
9. Dylan Casey (USA), U.S. Postal Service, 27:29;
10. Cadel Evans (Aus), Volvo-Cannondale, 27:36.

Overall after three stages

1. Green, 4:38:50
2. Leipheimer, 0:42;
3. Horner, at 0:51;
4. Rogers, at 0:58;
5. Wherry, at 1:00.