The fabled Sunset Loop at the Redlands Bicycle Classic has a reputation for high drama and last-minute upsets, but while this year’s final stages were tense, both the men’s and women’s overall leaders were able to fend off last-second upsets.
Megan Guarnier (Tibco-To the Top) held off a hard charge by Alison Powers (NOW-Novartis) by three seconds in the women’s individual GC. Phil Gaimon of Kenda-5-hour Energy took men’s GC honors over Patrick Bevin of Bissell by just two seconds, beating back a flurry of attacks in treacherous conditions late on the final day.
“The team really came together every day and everybody stepped up their game to protect and retain the yellow jersey,” said Guarnier. “Today was a really hard climbing race, but the team stuck to the plan, had faith, and kept me at the front.”
In her Redlands redemption, Powers revisited her 2009 season opener, putting her ski racing skillset to use in bombing down from the Sunset Loop to win the stage for the second time in her career.
“It was a hard race, one of the hardest of the year,” said Powers. “Going up that (Sunset Loop) climb every 15 or 20 minutes is difficult, especially when the wind picks up. Eating and drinking is important in that race. I’m tired but also very happy. Last year I broke my elbow at Redlands and that wrecked my year. It was great to come back from that with the team first in GC and second in GC for me.”
Gaimon broke out to an early GC lead in the men’s race after Thursday’s uphill prologue and never looked back, despite the sound of a hard-charging Kiwi closing in. Bevin won every stage except the opener, and became the first rider since Chris Horner in 2004 to win three stages at Redlands. That year Horner won the prologue and stages 1 and 2 en route to the overall title. The 7-Eleven teams of 1986 and 1987 swept the road stages both years, but spread the victories amongst different riders. Bevin’s ride through the NRC opener was one for history, but Gaimon was only thinking yellow in downtown Redlands.
“One difference this year is that I trained harder in the off-season, but the biggest difference is that we are a much stronger team now” he said. “ Another factor was an upgrade in our equipment, wheels, tires, everything. That was a lot of little things that add up.
“I’ve never raced for the GC before. There were a lot of strong guys. I really didn’t think I had it until the final lap.”
Gaimon and Guarnier will assume the top places in the first National Racing Calendar rankings when USA Cycling announced them this week.
Brief Men’s Results
1. Patrick Bevin, Bissell
2. Evan Huffman, Cal Giant-Specialized at s.t.
3. Francisco Mancebo, Competitive Cyclist at s.t.
Final General Classification
1. Phil Gaimon, Kenda-5-hour Energy
2. Patrick Bevin, Bissell at :02
3. Francisco Mancebo, Competitive Cyclist
Brief Women’s Results
1. Alison Powers, NOW-Novartis
2. Joelle Noumainville, Optum at s.t.
3. Loren Rowney, Specialized-lululemon at s.t.
Final General Classification
1. Megan Guarnier, Tibco-To the Top in 7:25:04
2. Alison Powers, Now-Novartis at :03
3. Joelle Noumainville, Optum at :12