The 2010 National Racing Calendar (NRC) will officially start at the Redlands Bicycle Classic on March 25-28 in California. The long-running event has the best professional men and women's teams from across the country raring to get the racing season underway.
"We will have all the best teams in North America represented," said Scott Welsh, marketing director of the Redlands Bicycle Classic. "We are looking for a spectacular week of racing to kick off the NRC."
The Redlands Bicycle Classic is a four-day stage race. Last year, Jeff Louder (BMC Racing Team) won the overall title ahead of Tom Zirbel, who took second and Ben Day in third. Louder will not participate this year; instead, the BMC Racing Team is scheduled to support current UCI road world champion Cadel Evans at the Criterium International held the same weekend in France.
The Pro/Cat 1 men's peloton isn't hurting for attendance however, boasting 26 teams totaling nearly 200 racers. Last year's highest ranked NRC team, Jamis-Sutter Home, returns with all-rounder Luis Amaran and sprinters Alejandro Borrajo and Ivan Dominguez.
Ben Day (Fly V Australia) returns in top form having recently won the San Dimas Stage Race for the second year running. "Redlands is the first NRC race on the calendar and everybody takes it very seriously," said Day. "People are going to really come out swinging for this race. We know this is an important race and we are going to be very aggressive."
Fierce overall contenders and potential stage winners include 2006 winner Nathan O'Neill and his teammate Floyd Landis (Bahati Foundation), 2007 winner Andrew Bajadali (Kelly Benefit Strategies), Chris Baldwin and Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare), Mike Friedman (Jelly Belly), Kyle Wamsley and Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell), Lucas Euser (SpiderTech) and Martijn Verschoon (Team Type 1).
The Under 23 US road and criterium national champion Alex Howes will lead the Holowesko Partners squad of eight young riders. Last year, they surprised themselves by winning the team classification. "We will take a crack at it again," said Howes. "We are coming to race, not to be pack fill. We have to set the goals high. Last year when we won it that was a big surprise for us so maybe we will surprise ourselves again this year. "
Other notable teams include Adageo, Mountain Khakis, CRCA Foundation, Warp9Bikes.com, Williams Cycling, Hagens Berman Cycling, Bikereg.com, Pista Palace, Herbal Life LaGrange, Yahoo!, California Giant Berry Farms, Ride Clean and Now-MS Society.
On the women's side, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (HTC-Columbia) is prepared to defend her overall title with the help of four strong teammates. She recently won the San Dimas Stage Race and the Merco Credit Union Cycling Classic's Downtown Grand Prix and Foothills Road Race this month. "We want to win Redlands again," said Teutenberg. "I really want [us] to win every race we go to, otherwise we shouldn't start. It's a good field and good competitors. If you make a mistake you normally don't win that race."
Former World Time Trial Champion Amber Neben announced that she will start the event as a guest rider with the BMW-Bianchi Elite Cycling Team. Neben is a dual winner of the classic four-staged race - in 2006 and 2007 - and is on good form following her recent stage win in the Tour of New Zealand. The 2008 winner Alex Wrubleski (Webcor-Builders) will no doubt want to capture an early season victory. Last year's NRC champion Alison Powers (Vera Bradley Foundation) will also be vying for valuable series points.
Overall contenders include US national road champion Meredith Miller (TIBCO) along with Mara Abbott and Katharine Carroll (Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12), Cath Cheatley (Colavita-Baci), Anne Samplonius (Nanoblur-Gears), Kathryn Mattis (Webcor-Builders) and Moriah MacGregor (Specialized). Notable teams include Herbal Life LaGrange, Veloforma, NOW-MS Society, Third Pillar and Trisports Cycling.
The 2010 Redlands Bicycle Classic stages
The event kicks off on Thursday, March 25 with the five kilometre Sun Time Trial Prologue. Stage one brings the peloton to he City of Beaumont Road Race. It changed from its previous starting location to include a Banning Bench whereby the first lap of the race for both men and women will start with a slight downhill for the first nine kilometres followed by a climb to over 900 feet over the next six kilometres. It will drop down onto the Beaumont's 28km circuit that includes a King (and Queen) of the Mountain ascent on each lap.
The men will complete five laps totaling 168 km and the women will take on three laps totaling 108 km and both races will conclude outside the Beaumont City Hall on 6th Street. "The loop has the same amount of climbing as last year," said Sean Rooks, technical director. "It should make for some good racing right out of the gate as the first KOM is only nine and half miles into the race."
Stage two presents a day for the sprinters at the City of Redlands Criterium. The peloton is challenged to a technical 1.5 km course with eight corners and two sweeping chicanes located on the inner loop. The women's field will race for 60 minutes followed by the men who will race for 90 mintues.
The Redlands Bicycle Classic will conclude on Sunday, March 28 at the stage three Beaver Medical Group Sunset Road Race, arguably the most challenging circuit race on US soil. The women will race for nine laps totaling 108 km and the men 12 laps totaling 150kms.