BEAUMONT, Calif. (VN) — Alison Powers (NOW-Novartis for MS) won stage 2 of the Redlands Bicycle Classic in Beaumont, Calif. on Friday. Powers, the overnight leader in the general classification, took a sprint win over Joanne Kiesanowski (Tibco-To the Top). Brianne Walle (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) finished third.
After three laps on the hilly Beaumont circuit, the women’s race came down to a group sprint of around 20 riders. Despite numerous attempts, a breakaway never really established. Specialized and Optum both tried to make something happen, but none of the moves succeeded. Powers’ NOW team proved too vigilant to let anything dangerous go up the road and ably defended her race lead.
Powers’ squad had an ally of sorts in Tibco, which rode a hard tempo throughout the day. At the start of the stage, Kiesanowski was Tibco’s highest-placed rider in the GC, at 1:12. Tibco wanted a hard race, and set out from the first lap to blow it up.
By the final trip over the circuit’s lone climb, the main field had shrunk to around 20 riders. Gillian Carleton (Specialized), Lauren Tamayo (Exergy Twenty 16), and Beth Newill (NOW) chased just off the back of the main field as the crucial final corner approached.
In the final kilometers, Powers’ teammates Robin Farina and Lex Albrecht went to the front to drive the pace. Powers led through the final corner and held off Kiesanowski for the victory.
The Kiwi issued a protest, however, contending that Powers strayed from her sprinting line and cut her off along the barricades. After reviewing the video and finish photographs, the three-member jury ruled that Powers left sufficient space and upheld the result.
“The team was awesome. Unbelievably awesome,” said Powers. “They suffered, we did exactly what we talked about, it was awesome. To be able to pull off the win was textbook teamwork. To win a sprint, I can’t believe it.”
Tayler Wiles (Specialized-lululemon) finished with the group to retain her second-place overall standing. Walle moved up to third after scoring time bonuses during the stage.
“This was an opportunity to really chase back some time and move up on GC,” said Walle. “We look for every opportunity to sweep up QOM and sprinters’ points. The last lap was just brutal.”
Andrea Dvorak (Exergy) swept the three QOM points on the stage and took command of the mountains classification. She will carry that lead into Sunday’s Sunset Loop circuit race.
“I got the KOM jersey two or three years ago,” she said. “Mara [Abbott] and I wanted to be up there for the climbs, and the plan was, if I was there, to go for it. I got the first one, and that kind of whetted the appetite to go for the other two.”
Amaran returns to winner’s circle in Beaumont
Luis Amaran (Jamis-Hagens Berman) was victorious in the men’s race. Amaran, a former National Racing Calendar champion, bested a group of five riders, topping Matt Cooke (Champion System-Stan’s NoTubes), who finished second. Francisco Mancebo (5-hour Energy-Kenda) was third.
Chad Haga (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) finished in the chasing peloton and retained his overall lead.
A series of breakaways escaped throughout the stage, but none ever gained much more than a minute over the main field. Optum brought only six riders for the task of defending the race lead, but tactical considerations meant they soon found allies on the road.
Bissell, Jamis-Hagens Berman, and Jelly Belly-Kenda each put in some serious work on the front to control the attacks, but crashes and a solid crosswind opened up splits throughout the day. “There were two or three crashes every lap toward the end,” said 5-Hour Energy director Frankie Andreu. “Guys get cross-eyed.”
The race-winning move escaped on the final trip up the Beaumont circuit’s main climb. Three riders from Jamis squad made the move, including San Dimas Stage Race overall winner Amaran and Ben Jacques-Maynes, who started the day 15 seconds behind race leader Haga.
The presence of past Redlands winner Francisco Mancebo added to the danger of the break.
Before the stage start, Jacques-Maynes said he would be watching for a likely move late in the race, and he found it. Unfortunately, his hopes of overall victory came to a screeching halt when he crashed with Cesar Grajales (Predator Cycling Carbon Repair) not far from the finish. Contrary to early reports, Jacques-Maynes said he plans to start on Saturday.
“I wanted that one bad. At least Luis finished it off well,” said Jacques-Maynes. “I’ll be sore, but nothing’s going to stop me [on Saturday].”
Five riders survived to contest the stage victory and it was a close sprint at the line. Amaran took the stage win ahead of Cooke, while Mancebo finished third.
At the line, the gap was just seconds between the lead group and the field. Thanks to his team’s hard riding, Haga will enter Saturday’s third stage as race leader. Mancebo moved up to second on Friday, while Tom Zirbel (Optum) now sits third overall.
“We pulled it off. It was very hard,” said Haga after the finish. “The guys are pretty spent after today. We’ll have to give them a big dinner tonight, they worked hard all day trying to keep the breaks in check and keep me out of the wind.”
With the breakaway pushing ahead late in the final lap, Haga was not sure he would keep his race lead until he crossed the line.
“It was far from certain until the line that I was holding on to the jersey,” he said. “I had a pretty good day, just to keep up with Mancebo at all you’re having a good day.”
For his part, Mancebo has his eye on Sunday’s Sunset Loop stage. He started Friday’s stage 19 seconds behind Haga, and drew closer at the finish.
“I had nothing more to do in the sprint. Amaran was the strong one today,” said Mancebo. “I felt good on the climb, not on the flats. I didn’t lose much time on the time trial, so I am fighting for the GC. I hope to feel good on Sunday on Sunset Loop.”
The Redlands Bicycle Classic continues Saturday with the stage 3 criterium in downtown Redlands.