Redlands Bicycle Classic Women’s Stage 5: Roldan Wins Final Stage, Gontova Wins Yellow

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Women’s Stage 5 Recap: Roldan Wins Redlands Finale for Cyclisca Cycling

REDLANDS, California (April 14, 2024) — Mara Roldan embraced her breakaway companion, Jenaya Francis of TaG Cycling, celebrating another win for Cynisca Cycling at the Redlands Bicycle Classic finale on the Sunset Loop. Roldan bookended her participation in Redlands winning the opening stage in Highland and the finale in Downtown Redlands. Jenaya Francis cross the line just behind for second, followed by Marlies Mejias in third for Virginia’s Blue Ridge Twenty24.

Mara Roldan wins Redlands Finale for Cynisca Cycling. Photo: © Veloimages / Redlands Bicycle Classic

“I think we just kept believing, we just kept saying to each other we’re Van der Poel,” Francis said, referring to the recent winner of Paris-Roubaix Matthieu van der Poel, who earned victory after a lengthy solo breakaway. “The gap just kept increasing,” Roldan added. “I took a wrong turn coming into the first corner of the circuit. I had to turn around and pull for my life to get back on her wheel; we just kept working together until the end.

“I was not expecting this. I knew we had a good team; we were on good form coming into this.” Roldan said. “We didn’t necessarily have expectations for ourselves, but we wanted to show who Cynisca is and what we can do. I think we did just that.”

The women set out for the 68-mile trek at 10 AM following the completion of the inaugural junior stage race in downtown Redlands. Marlies Mejias and Emma Langley both lead their classifications for sprint and the QOM by a healthy margin.Taking into account that anything can happen on the Sunset Loop, Virginia’s Blue Ridge took to the front from the gun, allowing Langley to solidify her QOM lead.

Photo: © Veloimages / Redlands Bicycle Classic

Emma Langley would garner top points on three of the four QOM sprint lines available on the final stage, securing her win in the classification.

“It was a really hard week but that means it was really great racing,” Langley said. “I had a couple of days off in fighting for the QOM jersey with no points available in the time trial or crit, but those were still brutal days on the legs just to make today that much harder. We had so much fun out on the course, fighting for a stage win as well as trying to bump up on GC, but to secure the QOM jersey is also really special.”

The battle for the GC ensued between the top five in the overall classification. Gontova had begun the day 50-seconds ahead of Alia Shafi of Found Cycling Guild and an additional 30 seconds ahead of Natalie Quinn. Shafi managed to breakaway early on, with two other riders – Emma Langley and former Colombian National Road Champion, Diana Peñuela of DNA Pro Cycling. The trio managed to gain up to a 30-second gap, with Peñuela sat on the back monitoring the situation for DNA.

Though Shafi gave a valiant effort, the break was caught due to the driving force of DNA Pro Cycling. Shafi would end the day 48-seconds behind Gontova. Roldan moved up in the overall standings to secure third place on GC after her stage win on Sunday. Meanwhile, Cecile Lejeune finished just inside the top ten for CCB p/b LLG, allowing her to secure the Best Amateur Competition.

Gontova had successfully defended her GC leaders jersey through to the finish, with numerous teammates emptying their tank while working towards their common goal. The victory is the most prestigious in Gontova’s young life.

“I’m really stoked we were able to pull it off. My teammates were really doing a lot of work for this today. I am so grateful for the team I had around me this week,” Gontova said after finishing. “I’m really happy we were able to hold onto it in the end. There were some moves that were very threatening to the GC but my teammates did a really good job on the front reeling it in and setting the pace.

“I didn’t expect myself to be in this position; I didn’t think I would be able to make it or hold on to the yellow jersey. I was so happy to start this stage in yellow and hold on to it until the end getting the biggest win of my career by far.”

Many teams now head to New Mexico for the Tour of the Gila, one of three stage races held in the United States each year, after wrapping another historic 5 days of racing at the Redlands Bicycle Classic.

Complete Pro Women’s Stage 5 Results

First – Mara Roldan (Cynisca Cycling)
Second (left) – Jenaya Francis (TaG Cycling)
Third (right) – Marlies Mejias (Virginia’s Blue Ridge Twenty24)
Photo: Above Four Media
Nadia Gontova (DNA Pro Cycling) defends yellow to take the most prestigious victory of her career. Photo: Above Four Media
DNA Pro Cycling wins the Team GC. Photo: Above Four Media
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