Words by: Ty Magner (Hincapie Racing Team)
The Redlands Bicycle Classic has always been an enigma for me. I’m pretty sure I could go into Redlands on the best form of my life, and still only manage to feel okay. That said, being on a team like Hincapie Racing there will always be guys that can rise to the occasion and be a threat in any situation.
Stage 1- Highland Circuit
Essentially an extended criterium, the Highland Circuit is unique in that it is nearly impossible for a break to stay away. The break could have an advantage of over a minute on the final lap and still be doomed with the group pushing 65k an hour through the neighborhoods. Garnering information from last year, we knew we could put the entire peloton under pressure in the final laps.
After many failed breakaway attempts, eventually, a dangerous break did sneak away. Sensing most of the teams’ complacency, we decided to ramp up the pace in the final 5 laps ( a move that may have showed too many of our bullets for the rest of the week). The pace was so high that by the time the sprint even happened there were only about 25 guys left for the final drag up the hill. I had Dion on my wheel when Travis MCcabe (Team Smartstop Pro Cycling) jumped very early on the steep part, followed by Sebastian Haedo (Jamis Hagens Berman p/b Sutter).
Dion eventually ramped it up, but with the tailwind all 4 of us stayed about the same distance to the line. Dion ended up snagging 3rd, and I was 4th. A grew team effort, and we were excited to build on it throughout the race.
Stage2- Time Trial
Not much to report about the time trial. We all had solid rides, with Robin Carpenter leading the way in 7th, Dion in 8th, and Latvian strongman, Andz Flaskis, in 10th. Dion’s ride kept him in 3rd overall, with myself 20 seconds down in 11th and Toms Skujins not far behind rounding out the top 15.
Stage 3 Yucaipa Road Race
Stage 3 was new for everyone, so no one really knew what to expect. Of couse it finished up the 10km climb to Oak Glenn, but there were also some other challenging aspects of the course with exposed areas to the wind, and fast descents.
Silber Pro Cycling had the GC lead with Ryan Roth, and knowing very little about the guys on their squad, we knew it would be an aggressive day. Contrary to what most would expect about an aggressive race plan, most of the time aggressive racing leads to a pretty frustrating day in the pack. Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies must have gambled on this being the case because they played it perfectly. Never did they seriously try to get in moves and were patient until it became time on the last lap to put Phil Gaimon and Mike Woods in a position to show off their climbing prowess. With Gaimon and Woods going 1,2 Dion was again our top guy in the top 15, keeping him in the top 10 overall.
Stage 4 Criterium
Cue up the annual morning coffee spin to Auggies with every other cyclist in Redlands! Thanks Auggies Coffee, you guys kill it.
The criterium is always a good time. The atmosphere is on point, the weather is perfect, and who doesn’t like a technical crit? Coming off winning the NCC Sunny King Criterium over the infamous “BlueTrain” we were feeling pretty good about our crit skills. Wanting to put a bit of pressure on Optum, the plan was to lay it all out there to get some guys in a move and gain some time.
Ha! easier said than done, we actually missed the move, got caught up in the crash with 5 to go, and left the chase too late. I made a pretty pathetic attempt to make contact with the break on the last lap, but to no avail and rolled in for 8th. Onward!
Stage 5 Sunset Road Race
The “Sunset Loop” is known for it’s taxing 5km climb, and super fast twisty descent.
Anything can happen on the sunset loop, as it’s super hard to control for the team that is leading. Last year Joey Rosskopf (former Hincapie Racing team mate) jumped away the final time up the climb, erasing over a 30 second deficit, to take the stage and overall. While no one is King Joseph, we knew this could be possible with Dion still hovering in the top 10, but what we didn’t account for is Optum riding a near perfect race.
Riding a steady tempo up the climb to preserve most of their guys, the break never gained more than 1.5 minutes, and discouraged most guys wanting to jump across. Eventually Dion and Robin (Carpenter) made a few last ditch efforts to shake things up, but Jamis was also helping out Optum in search of another stage win for Sebastian Haedo.
Piggy-backing off the efforts of Jamis and Optum, Andz and Oscar tried a few late race digs on the small downtown finishing circuits but the race was bound for a bunch gallop. Robin led Dion into the final chicane, but it was once again Haedo taking the win with MCcabe in 2nd, and Dion rounding out the podium.
Thanks to all our staff, sponsors, and host families that allow us to have fun doing what we love week in and week out. At the end of the week we may have not gotten the results we were looking for, but sometimes thats racing- After the race we were still able to crack open some beers as a team, eat a steak, strum some guitars, and look forward to the next weekend.
Ty Magner lives in Athens, GA.