Sunset Loop will shake up Redlands

With 25 bonus seconds on tap, and less than half a second separating Ben Day from Ben Jacques-Maynes, the Sunset Loop will define the GC at Redlands.

The Redlands Bicycle Classic concludes Sunday with the Sunset Loop road race, which has been a cornerstone of U.S. racing since the inaugural event in 1985. More than half of the peloton did reconnaissance on the critical stage Saturday before the stage 2 criterium.

Even if the race stays together, time bonuses could shake up the general classification – there are 25 bonus seconds available Sunday and 12 riders within 30 seconds of the overall. Ben Day (Fly V Australia) leads Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) by less than a second. As they did at the San Dimas Stage Race one week ago, Fly V have successfully defended Day’s lead from day one.

In the women’s race, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (HTC-Columbia) leads Kat Carroll (Peanut Butter & Co.-Twenty12) by 32 seconds.

Other than the first lap, when riders climb 900 vertical feet from downtown Redlands to the summit of Puesta Del Sol, where the prologue finished, the climbs are not particularly long. A succession of short, steep ramps greet riders as they reach the circuit.

Narrow, twisty and uneven roads wrap through the neighborhoods of south Redlands before riders reach the consistent grade of Sunset Drive South.

The fight is expected to start early. Teutenberg called the stage a, “crit, only on Sunset.”

There are three time bonuses available on the first trip over the the top of the Sunset Ridge climb, for 3, 2 and 1 second(s). Then there are bonuses at the finish line, too, for 10, 6 and 4 seconds.

“Fly V could defend Sunset Loop impeccably,” said Jacques-Maynes. “All I need is any of the bonus seconds anywhere along the course, preferably at the finish line. We’ll see what happens.”

Fly V Australia will be put to the test early to keep day in position for the bonus. Day will want to send a teammate into any early break to soak up the full time bonus if the group goes clear on the climb.

“It’s going to be a big fight going up to Sunset the first lap. I think you’re going to see some of our guys really selling out who aren’t going to make it all the way around the circuit, throwing some big bombs,” said Phil Zajicek (Fly V Australia). “There are going to be some big detonations.”

The top portion of the descent is new to many riders. This section of Sunset Drive was host to the prologue and the 19-plus percent grades will push the speeds into the 60 mph range quickly. There is a tricky chicane that takes riders onto the old descent of Via Vista just below the corner of Wabash and Sunset. There is a dip in the road entering the corner, which then rises about eight feet from start-to-finish.

Crafty descenders could push the pace through this corner, creating a gap heading into the more technical portion of the descent that rolls through a series of 90-degree corners.

After the last lap of the circuit, riders will continue descending into downtown Redlands on wide-open, two-lane residential streets. A hard left delivers riders onto Saturday’s criterium course, for five finishing laps. GC times will be taken on riders’ entry into the circuit.

Jelly Belly director Danny Van Haute, whose team got its start at Redlands 14 years ago, summed up the day: “Everything is going to happen. Stuff’s going to hit the fan.”