Redlands Bicycle Classic Stage 2: Gontova Soars to Victory on Queen Stage, Davis Steals Victory Atop Onyx Summit

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Women’s Trek Bicycles Onyx Summit Race Recap

SAN BERNARDINO, California (April 11, 2024) — The pro women showed up and showed out for the Queen stage, racing up to the Onyx Summit for the first time in Redlands Bicycle Classic history. Nadia Gontova soared to victory for DNA Pro Cycling in a similar fashion as last year on Oak Glen, finishing solo with a solid 55-second gap ahead of second place finisher, Emma Langley of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Twenty24. Langley also maintained the Queen of the Mountains classification lead, nearly doubling her points on stage 2. Eleanor Wiseman was third for Fount Cycling.

Nadia Gontova (DNA Pro Cycling) Soars to Victory atop Onyx Summit
Photo: VeloImages / Redlands Bicycle Classic

“The plan was to go for the win, try to get some time on the finish if I was feeling good,” Gontova said. “My teammates all rode such an amazing race from start to finish. It all played out so perfectly, I was really happy to have the legs to bring home the win in the end.”

The women raced for 40 miles, going full gas from kilometer zero. DNA Pro Cycling were one of several teams that had their riders warm up on the trainers prior to the roll out. The peloton saw the first and only intermediate sprint of the day at 5-miles into racing. Marlies Mejias of Virginia’s Twenty24 was first to jump, out sprinting her rivals to earn the first green jersey of the Redlands Classic. Many teams in the bunch were focused on the climb ahead, conserving their legs for the long trek up the mountain.

Daphne Karagianis of Denver Disrupters was first to test her legs, attacking the field shortly before the turn onto Highway 38 and the first mountain sprint line of the day. She managed to gain up to a 30-second gap, until the road began to pitch up ever so slightly and she was caught.

The climb had begun as one by one, riders began losing contact at the back of the peloton. Soon it was dozens, as riders were strewn throughout the caravan, trying to keep the field within their sights facing a long day ahead. Making their way up the climb, the field had dwindled down to roughly 40 riders from the 123 that had started the day.

“My expectations was that it was going to be hard, and it definitely lived up to that,” Langley said. “We knew all day that it was going to be a game of conserving and being smart on the wheels, and so especially through to the finish.”

Nearing the halfway mark and the second QOM of the day, DNA Pro Cycling decided it was their time to go. The plan from the start had been the stage win and yellow jersey, allowing other teams to battle for the QOM; they set their sights on the finish.

DNA Pro Cycling’s Sara Poidevin sets the tempo, with Emma Langley on her wheel Photo: VeloImages / Redlands Bicycle Classic

Former Mexican National Road Champion, Anet Barrera, increased the tempo as more and more riders were losing contact. Soon it was Diana Peñuela’s turn for the team, taking over the pace near the feed zone. By then, the group had been cut in half, with roughly 25 riders following. Nearing 10km to go, Barrera dropped off having done her work for the day, letting Sara Poidevin take over.

“It was a pretty big field going in the last little uphill,” Gontova said. “I knew it wasn’t the best finish for me, so I told my team, whoever could really drilled it on the front to bring the pace up. It really whittled it down. I could see people were getting tired. When I saw 4km to go, I got out of the headwind a little bit, the road went up and I knew it was now or never. It was very difficult and hot. I was really feeling the altitude, but I just told myself everyone was feeling it so it ended up playing out well in the end.”

The yellow jersey of Mara Roldan (Cynisca Cycling) had managed to maintain the tempo in the front group, but after being isolated was dropped close to 3km to the finish. Gontova took notice and launched her attack with such strength no one was able to follow. Jenaya Francis (Orion Racing) was the only rider who attempted to follow. Gontova eyed the move, and launched a second attack, but this time Francis had spent her final matches and was soon pedaling backwards.

“There was a small group, so I was motivating us to keep working together,” Langley added. “I knew that we would be stronger if we were still rotating as much as we could, try and limit the losses at that point. Nadia was gone, but we emptied the tank, I know I sure did.”

Gontova will start the Lake Perris individual time trial with a 55-second advantage ahead of Langley. Emily Erhlich remains a heavy favorite for the TT stage win, though she is out of contention for the overall general classification. Katherine Lin of A Quick Brown Fox team will be the first rider out of the starting house at 10:45 AM.

Complete Pro Women’s Stage 2 Results

First – Nadia Gontova (DNA Pro Cycling), Second (left) – Emma Langley (Virginia’s Blue Ridge Twenty24), Third (right) – Eleanor Wisen (Fount Cycling). Photo: Above Four Media
Nadia Gontova in yellow (DNA Pro Cycling). Photo: Above Four Media

Men’s Trek Bicycles Onyx Summit Race Recap

SAN BERNARDINO, California (April 11, 2024) — “I’ve never won a mountain top finish in my career and to do it on a crit team full of sprinters, this is not expected for us,” Cole Davis said, following his surprising victory on stage 2 for Ribble Rebellion. “It’s been a tough year and a half. I thought about hanging it up but this team gave me an opportunity to continue my career; I’m just so thankful for that!”

Cole Davis (Ribble Rebellion) takes the Queen stage victory atop Onyx Summit. Photo: VeloImages / Redlands Bicycle Classic

From the publication of the changes to the queen stage at the Redlands Bicycle Classic, all eyes were set on the Onyx Summit for Stage 2. Plenty of nervous legs were spinning at the start this morning, getting ready for the long day ahead. Despite plenty of effort from other teams, it was the Ribble Rebellion rider in the end who rode away to victory, leaving his fellow competitors speechless at the finish. Team California’s Nick Narraway finished shortly behind followed by Stephen Bassett (Denver Disrupters) in third for a second day running.

“I was dropped several times today, having been teammates with Joäo Almeida (2022 Giro d’Italia winner) throughout my career, I tried to use what he always taught us – a steady effort,” Davis said. “I love going from 1km to go but on a mountaintop, it’s way different.

“I have to apologize to my parents today because I told them why bother coming out here – I just have to roll and make time cut, best day – maybe top 20? I didn’t even bother looking at the stage profile because I thought I’m never going to win. I had come here to try and win stage one. So that was really frustrating but the upside is that I am 20 minutes down on GC so when I go, nobody has any reason to chase me so that played into the strategy today.”

The men began their 50.4-mile trek for the queen stage at 10 AM local time, with the sun shining and the temperatures beginning to rise. Two intermediate sprints were first on the docket, at 10.5 miles in with another at 15.5 miles prior to the start of the climb. Canel’s was the first to make a move with Sebastian Mata earning top points at sprint 1. The race suddenly took a wrong turn off course as the results were being announced, forcing the race to be neutralized for roughly two miles as officials scrambled to get the peloton back on course safely.

Teams settled back into tempo, conserving their legs on the last bit of flat road before the climb began. The warm temperatures and head wind played a factor, making it tough for any breakaways to get established.

Photo: VeloImages / Redlands Bicycle Classic

Landis/Trek Cyclery’s Stephen Schaefer was the first to go, hoping for some companions to tag along but looking back realized he was on his own. The Tucson native kept his head down and gained up to a 2:20 minute gap ahead of the field. Shortly before the first KOM, it was Canel’s – Java Efren Santos who launched a solo chase. The former Mexican National Road Champion would close a two-minute gap, catching Schaefer with 18 miles left to race. Schaefer did his best to hold Santos’ wheel but after such an intense solo effort for so long, he lost contact soon after.

Santos had been 19-seconds down on GC at the start of the day, and had gained up to a 1:15 gap on the field. Project Echelon lifted the tempo in defense of the yellow jersey, slowly closing the gap. Just as they rounded a curve and had Santos in sight, the Canel’s rider suffered a mechanical. The Shimano neutral service team was on the case within seconds, but it was too late. Santos did his best to keep a gap but the peloton was on the move, catching him seconds later.

“The peloton had been pretty calm when I first launched my attack,” Santos said after finishing. “I had the unfortunate mechanical at a bad time. Though I was helped by Shimano, by then the peloton was right on top of me.”

What was remaining of the front group had been reduced to roughly 30 riders, as the fireworks because to explode. Project Echelon maintained a solid pace at the front of the field, with the yellow jersey of Tyler Stites sitting comfortably on third wheel. Several teams tried their hands at disrupting their plan.

Photo: VeloImages / Redlands Bicycle Classic

Williams Racing Devo’s Eder Frayre attacked within 10km to go, with Team California’s Kellen Caldwell the only rider to respond. Project Echelon maintained their composer, with neither rider a threat to the GC. Frayre was racing with two broken ribs suffered in a training crash a week prior, and thus was not able to maintain the effort. Caldwell fought on, and would manage to gain 30 seconds before he too was absorbed with 1km to go.

Tyler Stites would finish in the front group, behind Davis and Narraway, four seconds down maintaining his lead on GC. Bassett moved up to second just five seconds down, after another consistent finish racing for the first time at altitude in several years.

Stites won the time trial last year, going into the new course tomorrow hoping to repeat his victory to defend yellow for another day.

“I have to thank my team, they rode amazing,” Stites said at the finish. “We controlled the riders up the road and brought them back. There were a lot of attacks in the final few kilometers that I had to cover. The last one kind of slipped away, but I was just happy to be in the little group on the same time. It was pretty tough, more of grind because it was so gradual, only really got into the high intensity in the last few km.”

Complete Pro Men’s Stage 2 Results

Tyler Stites (Project Echelon) holds on to the lead in the general classification. Photo: Above Four Media
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