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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Redlands 2013

Redlands Classic is the first NRC (National Racing Calendar) event of the year, and it was a big one! The start list was outstanding with close to 90 riders entered and the field was top, top quality. 
We had a strong team of 8 including; Annie, Joelle, Denise, Brie, Amber, Jade, Janel and myself.  

The first stage was a Time Trial in Big Bear. With an altitude of about 7000 feet this stage really suited the riders who have just come from places like Boulder or from somewhere high up. The entire race felt like my throat was bleeding and everyone was coughing endlessly once we had finished. Imagine riding as hard as you can, through a straw, it is similar to that.. The legs and lungs definitely do not enjoy it. Anyway, the tt was hard, I went out all guns blazing and was completely done by 9kms. Unfortunately the tt was 12kms long so I fell a little short with my pacing.  

Alison Powers had a phenomenal ride finishing close to 30 seconds in front of second place and beating a large quantity of the elite men's field. Our little pocket rocket Brie had a hugely impressive ride finishing in 4th place, Janel in 7th and Denise in 10th with the rest of us close behind. Unfortunately Jade got a very unfair time penalty which put her back 50 seconds, and I came in somewhere in the 20's about 1 and a half minutes back from Alison.  

The next day was a 120km road race (thankfully back down to sea level).The race was fast, hard, and fun. The team rode awesome with Jade going for the QOM, Brie taking out the sprints and the rest of the team chasing the breaks and keeping things hard. On the final lap I got in a small break and stayed with them for a wee while, I was blown, my legs didn't have much, I hung on with gritted teeth until Joelle bridged across, then I hit the wall and came back to the bunch. On the last climb Janel was going backwards, unsure of the reason I tried to stay with her and we worked hard together in the final Km's to keep the time gap as small as possible. We later realised she had a slow leak on the front wheel which slowed her down considerably on the climb. Further up the road Brie sprinted to 3rd place, putting her up to 3rd on GC and Alison pulled out another win with fellow Kiwi rider Joe finishing 2nd. 

Day three was the Redlands Criterium, known to be one of the hardest, most technical crits on the American calendar. Fast it was! Denise got away in the final 15 minutes and stayed up the road for quite a few laps, Jade countered her but it ended up coming to a bunch sprint with Joelle coming a close 2nd, to Alison (again). Unfortunately I had some bad luck on one of the corners in the final laps with my bike coming to a holt. Once I got going again the bunch was up the road, Dang!  

Last stage, the Sunset Loop, known to be the most brutal stage of the tour, and of most races in the US. Basically the main race is in the first 15kms. It starts with a long neutral section where everyone jostles for position, then it goes to a narrow, rough, windy downhill which runs straight into the climb of the day. If you are not at or near the front when you get to the base of the climb, you're toast. 20 riders got away on the climb, including 4 Optum girls. Denise and I were in a small (ish) bunch that was caught in the middle and the rest of the field was behind. In our bunch were some GC threats so there was no need to do any work or try to get up the road in case we got chased by these riders. Some of the teams got to the front to try and catch but the chasing was too inconsistent so it ended up being more of a bunch ride as riders would give up one by one. The front of the field was getting smashed to pieces, Marra Abbott and Claudia Haussler got away (Two of the best climbers in the worlds) while Joelle faught it out in the chasing group and Brie, Jade and Janel very close behind. Mara ended up staying away, just! With Joelle getting the bunch sprint in 2nd. 

Overall it was an awesome race, the team rode extremely well together and we have some great times coming up. It is early season so we are not at our best yet, but it's not going to be long until we get there. Next up is Charlotte Criterium in the weekend after a stop off in Baltimore to catch up with John Kelly and the team from Kelly Benefit Strategies and the diabetes foundation. 

The weather is getting warmer, the tan lines are at their best and the legs are on the up, time to win some bike races =)

Getting ready for the Time Trial at 7000 Feet.
Just starting the Time trial, with the beautiful lake next to me.
                Team Talk before stage three road race.
 Riding the front in my new awesome NZ champ jersey. Thank you so much Champion System for such a fantastic job!! http://www.champ-sys.com/
At some stage during one of the stages at Redlands. Photos thanks to; Danny Munson, Cyclingillustrated.com

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