Erica Clevenger (Sho-Air TWENTY20) claimed victory on the final day of the Redlands Bicycle Classic, outsprinting Sara Poidevin (Rally UHC Pro Cycling) in a thrilling Sunset Loop Road Race finale.
Lauren Stephens (TIBCO – Silicon Valley Bank) took third place after driving her two breakaway companions to the line in an attempt to claim GC. Her efforts boosted her to second overall.
“This is my second year at Redlands; this is my biggest result of my career,” Clevenger said. “I have never had a stage podium before, so this is the coolest thing ever. We had amazing teamwork throughout the race. Even without the [GC] win this was really special for all of us. We were looking forward to this day, this is a favorite of ours. We had a really good race at Oak Glen, and I think we took over the team GC so I’m super stoked about that too.”
Amber Neben (Trek-Red Truck Racing) did enough to control the breakaway to secure the yellow jersey as the overall winner by 39 seconds ahead of Stephens, earning her fourth Redlands title of her career. Stephens teammate, Emily Newsom, took third place a minute back.
“I really came in with no expectations because I haven’t done a lot of top-end intensities so I didn’t know how good I was,” Neben said. “I knew I had a lot of depth to my fitness but I didn’t know if I would be good enough to do the road race. I figured I would have a good time trial but then it’s always – the road race is always difficult. I knew I had a young team and this is such a hard race to win without support. My expectations were just to go for it in the time trial and see how long I could defend the jersey if I had it. Everyday you’re one day closer, you start thinking about winning it.”
The 68-mile race started off quietly, but after the first lap the fireworks started, with five riders gaining some distance on the pack. They included Clevenger, Poidevin, Holly Breck (Amy D Foundation), sprint leader Lily Williams (Hagens Berman | Supermint) and Emily Marcolini (TIBCO – Silicon Valley Bank). Stephens later bridged to the break.
They averaged a two-minute gap for the majority of the stage with Stephens sitting at the front trying to time trial her way to a GC win. On the final climb, when Clevenger and Poidevin attacked and dislodged Williams and Marcolini. The three carried on, but Stephens couldn’t outpace the peloton and had to be content with second overall.
“Today we were all in to try and take over the leader’s jersey; what I did today was part of the plan,” Stephens said. “The goal was to get Emily (Newsom) to come across, but there never was the opportunity. I had to put in quite a bit of time on Amber (Neben) to be able to take over the jersey so I wasn’t quite able to get that much time. Sunset is a great course. We always say everything changes on Sunset so no matter what happens the days before. I actually had a bad climb on Oak Glen, so to finish up where I am now is pretty impressive because I had dropped down to seventh. I got from second to seventh on Oak Glen.”
Williams secured the sprint jersey, Krista Doebel-Hickok (Rally-UHC Cycling) won the mountains classification and Anna Dorovskikh (Amy D Foundation) claimed best amateur jersey.
Content provided by Redlands Classic. Photo by Dan Munson.