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Redlands Bicycle Classic, 2006
By Cathy Mehl
Date: 3/24/2006
Redlands Bicycle Classic, 2006
Welcome to the 2006 Redlands Bic

Welcome to the 2006 Redlands Bicycle Classic.  The race is one day shorter this year, with the mountain stage to Oak Glen being eliminated, but according to people who seem to know, the mountains will be part of next year's race for sure.   But the teams are here and the competition was high as the pro men and women began competition with the Time Trial. 

Stage One was a 5 km Time Trial for both men and women.  At the 10 AM start for women the temperature was a mild 62 degrees with just a slight wind which didn't affect the efforts of the riders.  The team parking lot was abuzz when I arrived, and the ladies were starting to hit the trainers for their initial warm-up.  No pace cars were allowed on the course since it was quite short and the start times were staggered at thirty seconds so cars would have been a hazard. The course for the men and women was the same, which was a wandering course that began at 1502' and ended at 2142'  3.2 miles later, for a grueling gain of 640 feet.  First rider up was Laura Hines of SC Velo, with last year's Redland Classic winner Christine Thorburn of Webcor last out of the gate. A computer randomly selected the start times with the exception of last's years winners being held until the end.

The top finisher of the day was Amber Neben (SC Velo) at 10:51.18, with Kristin Armstrong (Team Lipton)coming in second (:03.69) and Christine Thorburn (Webcor-Platnium) third at :05.18.

I checked in with Kimberly Anderson of T-Mobile when she came off the course.  When asked to comment on the course, the first words out of her mouth were: "Ouch!  Does that work for ya?!"  We both laughed as she continued on:  "This year I feel a lot better than I have (in other years).  But I kept thinking this is the longest 1k I've ever done.  But I think I did okay.  I'm not known for these short time trials,  I need something longer.  I saved a little bit for the end, but near the end it hurt so bad you don't even care." 

"This course was almost like a science project, trying to figure it out," commented Dotsie Bausch (Colavita/Cooking Light).   "Training on it felt dramatically different than riding it today, and it was one of the hardest courses I've seen or done.  It wasn't completely flat or completely uphill.  You couldn't go too hard in the beginning or you'd blow, that pitch was so steep!  I don't think I could've done it any better unless I'd do it thirty times!"   When Dotsie was told she had gotten 8th, she was surprised but very happy, knowing her efforts had paid off today.

The men's race began at noon, so team staff began arriving about an hour and a half early, with early starters arriving 45 minutes ahead of time to begin their warm up.  Many riders were warming up on the residential streets nearby in addition to sitting on the trainers, and others rode from their hotels to ensure that early warm-up.  Weather was now hovering in the high 70's but still no wind and several riders commented the wind was not a factor.

Nathan O'Neill (Health Net presented by Maxxis) ruled the road for the men, taking first place at 9:17.82.  He made it look easy but he said he really was a little rough today.  "I just flew in from Australia Wednesday night.  I just came back from the Commonwealth Games (where he took the gold in the Time Trial).  I finished the Time Trial down there, crossed the finish line, stepped off it and didn't step back on until I got here. That was Monday night.  Got on the airplane, legs were full of garbage, flew for twenty hours, and finally rode for four hours yesterday.  A short effort like this...even if you don't have it you just have to suffer a little bit more.  That's all I did.  Just got into the groove and suffered.  I knew that everyone was going to ride pretty much the same speed up the hill, so I knew the advantage would need to come before the hill.  Gain it before the hill and hang onto it."    With his teammate Scott Moninger  (9:38.18) taking third place today, Health Net presented by Maxxis feel they have plenty of good options in the next two stages to maintain their lead throughout the race.

Chris Baldwin (Toyota-United Pro) had a fine second place finish, at  9:29.72.  "I was happy with what I did today.  I was surprised someone else went twelve seconds faster: that was impressive!  I trained on the hill and had my plan, and went 100% from the beginning.  I used the time trial bike instead of the road bike.  A lot of the race was over 20 miles per hour, except for the hills, so the time trial bike made more sense." 

It was a great day of racing.  Saturday's criterium should be a hard-fought battle as the sprinters hope to take the stage.  Check back for more photos as the race progresses.

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