by Roman Kilun Stage 4 of the Redlands Cycling Classic goes by a simple name: Sunset. In the ever changing world of US cycling, this race is a genuine classic and is universally feared and respected. It is unique in the world of US cycling in that it is extremely hard but can be won by any type of rider from sprinter to climber. The course consists of a start on the Redlands crit course followed by a climb up to the Sunset Loop, 12 laps of the Loop, and a descent back to the crit course for 5 more laps. As usual the climb up to the circuit was fast and crazy. Everyone fights for position like it’s the end of a crit since the start of the Loop is super narrow and takes you to the base of the climb. Luckily I had Eric, Daniel and James keeping me in position all the way to the critical point.
Once on the circuit I knew the first three laps would be ballistic and they were; over half field was shelled. As if scripted, the race calmed way down for the middle laps into a steady but bearable torture. Breakaways started and failed every lap for what seemed like half the race. Finally around the mid way point a group led by Jamis established a lead and the 5 hour boys settled into a tempo for a few laps. By tempo I mean Nate English smashed us every time up the hill.
With two laps to go Matt Cooke threw down a blistering attack which drew out the race leaders. I knew I could not follow the best climbers so I did what I could to limit the damage and ride in a good group with Tom Zirbel and Justin Rossi. We were able to rejoin the leaders just before the descent and the start of the final lap. At this point I was starting to get really excited about racing on the circuits but there was one brutal lap left. Once again Matt Cooke attacked on the climb and this time only Mancebo was able to match the pace. It seemed that Chad Haga (race leader) was faltering and chose to stay with his team who would try to limit the damage on the long descent into town.
Now, done with all of the climbing a group of roughly 35 sat glued to the Optum team as they chased in vain to catch Paco. At this point I was pretty surprised that the Jamis team did not lend a hand as they had numbers and the best sprinter in the group. Perhaps they thought they had enough time once we reached the crit laps. Once on the crit laps Jamis went all in for JJ Haedo and chased Macebo who was nursing a 20 second lead. Meanwhile I made a big push to the front and settled in behind Freddie Rodriguez. It was very difficult to maintain position as I was having to battle with teams like Elbowz and BMC who had numbers.
At the start of the final lap, Jamis ran out of guys and JJ Haedo was left solo on the front at which point he started sprinting!!! He sprinted for a full lap but did not catch Macebo, yet no one got around him so he finished 2nd. I held on to the wheels in front of me and passed a rider or two in the final corners to finish 8th. While not a podium I am extremely proud of the result of our team that helped me achieve it.
For you geeks out there who care about data here are the basic stats:
Av Speed: 38.8km/h
Max Speed: 88.32km/h
Norm Power: 362watts
Elevation: 8,418 feet
Photo credits to Cyclingnews.com