The San Dimas Stage Race is a renowned for attracting the best of the best in American bike racing as a leg opener for the start of the upcoming National Racing Calendar (NRC) series. This year the Pro/Cat 1 men's field has been filled to capacity with 150 starters and the Pro/Elite women's field boasts 75.
Ben Day (Fly V Australia) is prepared to defend his overall winning performance from last year with a strong squad that includes Jonathan Cantwell and Bernie Sulzberger. The 2002 winner, Hilton Clarke (Bahati Foundation) has returned Stateside from the ProTour ranks and will no doubt want to capture an early season victory.
"In Europe I was sort of like pack-fill and here I can win some races," said Clarke. "I seem to do a lot better over here and I'm excited to be back racing this stuff. It is going to be our first shot with all the teams having a go at it. I think we have a team that can be competitive in every aspect of these tours. It's a matter of gelling together to see what we can do."
He is equipped with a tough, all-round team that includes Floyd Landis, Nathan O'Neill, Jason Donald and Rahsaan Bahati.
Other notable contenders include Rory Sutherland and Marc de Maar (UnitedHealthcare), Luis Amaran and Alejandro Borrajo (Jamis-Sutter Home), Kyle Wamsley and Daniel Holloway (Bissell), Thomas Rabou and Martijn Verschoor (Team Type 1), Lucas Euser (SpiderTech) Ben King (Trek-Livestrong), Mark Hekman (Mountain Khakis), Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies), Alex Howes (Holowesko Partners) and Cody Stevenson (Adageo).
On the women's side, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (HTC-Columbia) proved she is in unbeatable form when she won the Merco Credit Union Cycling Classic Downtown Grand Prix and the Foothills road race. She will start this year's event with the help of four teammates, also capable of winning the overall title, Kim Anderson, Evelyn Stevens, Emilia Fahlin and Chloe Hosking.
"We are bringing some of the girls who are not riding in Europe so they can race before the spring classics start," said 2008 winner Kim Anderson. "I'm not the biggest fan of the uphill time trial. But, when I won it, Mara [Abbott] was actually leading the overall race and my teammate and I went off the front in the road race. So it's a lot of circumstance."
Reigning US national champion Meredith Miller (TIBCO) will debut her stars and stripes jersey throughout the weekend of racing. Former US national road champion Mara Abbott has returned Stateside and will take on the three-stage race with her new Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12 team.
Potential overall winners include Cath Cheatley (Colavita-Baci), Moriah MacGregor (Equipe Feminine Specialized), Dotsie Bausch (InCycle-SCVelo), Anne Samplonius (Nanoblur-Gears), Ruth Clemence (Specialized) and Alexis Rhodes (Team Vera Bradley Foundation).
The San Dimas Stage Race will kick off with the notorious Glendora Chevrolet uphill time trial on Friday March 19. The individual effort will force the riders up nearly six kilometres of twists and turns to the top of Glendora Mountain Road. The ascent typically creates large enough gaps in the overall classification to make this stage race a battle of the climbers.
The racing continues on Saturday, March 20, at the San Dimas Hospital Road Race, held on a 12km circuit through Bonelli Park. The Pro men will take on 12 laps totaling 135km and the Pro/Elite women will complete eight laps for a total of 70km of racing.
The circuit is undulating and serves as the start of the best sprinter and King/Queen of the Mountain classification. Lengthy separations amongst the peloton typically begin to open over the Cannon Ave, a short but steep climb averaging 13 percent.
The event will conclude with the fast and technical Incycle Bike Stores-Cannondale Bicycles criterium held in downtown San Dimas on Sunday, March 21. The stage is well-remembered for its L-shaped course with an uphill drag on the inner circuit followed by fast descent and a 90 degree right-hand turn toward the finish line. The Pro/Elite women will race for 55 minutes followed by the Pro men for 90 minutes.