Abbott looking for first Redlands overall win

Mara Abbott may have been more surprised than anyone else at her second-place finish Wednesday during stage 1 of the Redlands Bicycle Classic.

The Wiggle Honda rider is competing in the US stage race this week as a guest rider for LA Sweat, a composite team that helped her stay safe throughout the opening stage before unleashing her on the uphill sprint at the end of the Highland circuit race.

“I’m really excited to be here,” Abbott told Cyclingnews. “I’m racing with a bunch of girls that I just met last night, and they raced as well as any of the professional teams did today. I was really proud to be a part of that, because that really shows them stepping up, and I was really honored to have them helping me out.”

Abbott said she was pushing herself at the end of the stage to help build fitness for the future and to protect against any time gaps that could go out during stage 1 of USA Cycling’s National Racing Calendar opener. She said the runner-up result was simply a bonus, adding that she wasn’t surprised to be overtaken in the final 10 metres by relatively unknown rider Alison Jackson (Twenty16-Sho Air).

“No, honestly, I was surprised that other people didn’t,” Abbott said. “So kudos to her, and kudos to everyone else who rode really well.”

Abbott is at the race to fill a void in her European race program for the Wiggle Honda UCI pro team.

“Joy McCullough offered to try and get me out,” Abbott said. “The LA Sweat girls gave me a place on their team, and the race brought back Oak Glen, so a lot of things came together for me.”

Abbott said she spent a week in her parents’ basement in Colorado acclimating to the States and the transatlantic travel before making her way to Southern California for Redlands, a race she has never won but lost by one second to Alex Wrubleski (Webcor Builders) in 2008.

Abbott won the Sunset Road Race stage at Redlands last year and finished 29 seconds behind Tayler Wiles (Specialized-lululemon) in the general classification. Could 2015 be the year she adds Redlands to her lengthy palmares?

“I think anytime you line up for a race, then you have a chance to win the race and you go into the race and try to do your best,” she said. “So we have four more days of racing, and we’ll see where we land on day five.”

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