Redlands Bicycle Classic Stage 1: Roldan Steals the Win, Stites Sprints to Victory

0
1327

Women’s Highland Circuit Race Recap

HIGHLAND, California (April 10, 2024) — Mara Roldan stormed to victory for Cynisca Cycling, stealing the win in Highlands on the opening stage of the 38thedition of the Redlands Bicycle Classic. Cynisca had been laying low in the peloton, keeping a close watch on the movements of the race before Roldan attacked rounding the final turn up Base Line Road. Maeghan Easler was just behind in second for DNA Pro Cycling, with Alia Shafi rounding the podium in third for FOUNT Cycling.

Mara Roldan steals the stage 1 victory for Cynisca Cycling
Photo: VeloImages / Redlands Bicycle Classic

“I surprised myself a little today. I was showing some sickness coming into this so I was a little anxious about my preparation,” Roldan said at the finish. “We had a solid team and a positive mindset – everyone really gave it everything. I couldn’t be more happy with the team today.”

The field had remained together through most of the 14 laps around the 2.8-mile circuit in Highland, with temperatures soaring. Race organizers made a slight change to the start, excluding the traditional neutral roll out from the nearby San Manual Band of Mission Indians headquarters. Instead, the riders started on Base Line making the traditional finish, the start as well. The change saw many riders take to their trainers to warm up the legs prior to the roll out at 8:45 AM.

Photo: VeloImages / Redlands Bicycle Classic

There were three queen of the mountain sprint lines available in this opening day of racing. Former USA National Road Champion Emma Langley winning the second QOM and earning three more points at the finish to lead the classification for Virginia’s Blue Ridge Twenty24. No sprint points were available.

With so many changes to the course for 2024, teams are faced with a change in tactics for the overall GC. The GC contenders in the field were focused on the two time bonuses available – the first intermediate offering three, two, and one second for the first three riders, and then 10, six and four seconds for the top three on the stage.

“I was quite surprised because not a lot of people went hard on the second to last climb,” Roldan said. “I was expecting people to go really hard. Things started to move down the descent. As we got into the chicane, Cara (O’Neill) came up and positioned me well towards the front of the pack and gave it everything she had to get me to the front. I just went, I used some other teams wheels a bit and gave it everything up the climb.”

The defending overall GC Champion Emily Ehrlich arrived feeling ill, hoping to be able to race through Sunday. The recent Pan American multi-gold medalist pulled out of the race within ten laps to go. The Twenty24 rider was able to complete enough laps to be eligible for the start on Thursday.

Cecile Lejeune racing for CCB presented by Levine Law Group was the top finisher on GC in 12th place to earn the Best Amateur jersey, similar to the Best Young Rider in other races. The Best Amateur competition is presented to the rider with the best time on GC who holds a USA Cycling category 2 license. The riders cannot be a member of a registered UCI team or part of the USA Cycling Redlands development team racing Redlands.

The women still start stage 2 Trek Bicycles Onyx Summit at 10:30 AM after the men start at 10, a brutal 29.9 climb up for a summit finish.

Complete Pro Women’s Results

First – Mara Roldan (Cynisca Cycling), Second (left) – Maeghan Easler (DNA Pro Cycling), Third (right) – Alia Shafi (Fount Cycling). Photo: Above Four Media
Mara Roldan in yellow (Cynisca Cycling), Photo: Above Four Media

Men’s Highland Circuit Race Recap

HIGHLAND, California (April 10, 2024) — Project Echelon’s Tyler Stites outsprinted his rivals, taking the stage 1 victory on the Highland Circuit for the opening stage at the Redlands Bicycle Classic. The two-time overall defending champion took the early lead on GC to gain an advantage ahead of the Onyx Summit on Thursday. His team worked hard throughout the stage, with Sam Boardman and Scott McGill chasing down any dangerous escapees. Tom Williams finished just behind Stites in second for the British squad, Thriva SCRT, with Stephen Bassett in third racing with Denver Disrupters this season.

Tyler Stites (Project Echelon) takes the victory on stage 1 Highland Circuit
Photo: VeloImages / Redlands Bicycle Classic

“It was good; I always love this course,” Stites said after finishing. “I’ve been up there a couple times on the stage but never been able to win. It’s pretty tricky timing on the hill, but I think I finally timed it right this year.”

The men took to the start at 11 AM following the awards ceremony for the pro women. With a lot of nerves looking towards stage 2, the race saw few attempts at breakaways. The temperature was also a factor with the heat increasing in the afternoon, making for a tough first day of racing. Several riders attempted to escape, but were soon caught after a lap or two.

Team Expeditor’s Kaler Marshall attacked shortly before the third KOM of the day. A group of four launched the chase, including Pablo Alarcon (Canel’s-Java), Tanner Ward (Williams Racing), Brooks Wienke (Aevolo), and Sam Boardman (Project Echelon). The field absorbed them all with three laps to go.

Speaking to various riders at the finish, most were relieved to have the first stage completed. The Redlands Bicycle Classic is typically the first big race of the season where the teams get to see how they measure up against their competition. However, they have never faced such an epic day of climbing so early in the season like the Onyx Summit on Thursday.

Photo: VeloImages / Redlands Bicycle Classic

“Historically this race has always been really close,” Stites said. “I don’t know if those 10 seconds are going to do much this year with the huge mountain we have to climb tomorrow. I think there will be bigger gaps.”

Bassett agreed. The Denver Disrupters are racing their first stage race as a team with several new riders on the roster, including Bassett.

“We’ve never raced together before, but we had great work from the boys,” Bassett said looking ahead to Thursday. “Tomorrow will be interesting having this one time hit of altitude, going up to 8300 ft. I think. It’s super long with a couple little dips in there. It’s good for me to take a couple breathers. We’ll see how that plays out, I’m looking forward to it.”

Brody McDonald was the top finisher in the Best Amateur competition, earning the first white jersey of the week for Aevolo Cycling. The pro men will start their 50-mile trek up to the summit for stage 2 at 10 AM.

Complete Pro Men’s Results

First – Tyler Stites (Project Echelon Racing), Second – Tom Williams (Triva SRCT), Third – Stephen Bassett (Denver Disrupters). Photo: Above Four Media
Tyler Stites (Project Echelon) takes the lead in both the GC and KOM classification. Photo: Above Four Media
(Visited 132 times, 1 visits today)

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here