Kenda/5-Hour Energy stormed to the top of the first USA Cycling National Race Calendar standings off the strength of Phil Gaimon's four-day run in the yellow jersey at the series-opening Redlands Bicycle Classic last week in southern California. Gaimon also leads the men's individual standings.
Team Tibco to the Top followed a similar path to the women's team lead, with individual series leader Megan Guarnier taking yellow on the first day at Redlands and holding it through the end of the four-day race.
Gaimon won the prologue time trial by three seconds and never relinquished the yellow jersey, fending off multiple attacks on the final day under challenging wet and cold conditions. Bissell Pro Cycling's Paddy Bevin took three-consecutive stage wins at Redlands and secured the second spot in the individual standings, just 22 points behind the leader. Optum-Kelly Benefits rider Alex Candelario, who finished second to Bevin at the stage 2 criterium, sits third overall, while defending champion Francisco Mancebo (Competitive Cyclist) is fourth.
The men's team standings reflect the top three spots in the individual category, with Gaimon's Kenda squad in the lead and Bevin's Bissell team grabbing second, 32 points in arrears. Candelario's Optum team is in third place, 87 points down.
Kenda director Frankie Andreu said the team laid it all out on the line to bring home the squad's first NRC win and to seize the NRC individual and team leads.
"It takes a lot of sacrifice to be able to win a big race," Andreu said of his eight-man Redlands roster. "So for Kenda/5-Hour Energy, this is our first big NRC win, and we're pumped. I'm super excited. Phil's super excited, and we're just happy for Kenda/5-Hour Energy."
Guarnier won the leader's jersey with a six-second win in the prologue time trial over defending Redlands champion Amber Neben (Specialized-lululemon), and then followed it up with top-five finishes in each of the three remaining stages. Joelle Numainville (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies), who won the criterium and finished second twice for third overall at Redlands, is in second place in the NRC individual standings, 76 points behind the leader. Redlands runner-up and Sunset Road Race winner Alison Powers (Now and Novartis for MS) is third overall, 82 points down. Neben is fourth, while her teammate and Beaumont stage winner Loren Rowney grabbed the fifth spot.
Tibco now leads Optum by just 20 points in the team competition, with Now and Novartis 61 points down for third.
"It's awesome," Guarnier said of the Redlands results. "We're a really great team, and everybody poured their hearts into this, so it's great. This is Tibco's first NRC stage race win, so it's a pretty good feeling."
After Redlands, Guarnier's team headed immediately for Europe, where they will compete in several World Cup races starting with the Tour of Flanders April 1 in Belgium
The NRC continues for the men in two weeks with the Tour of the Battenkill April 15 in Cambridge, New York. The women rejoin the fray at the Joe Martin Stage Race in Fayetteville, Ark., April 26-29.
USA Cycling NRC Standings
1. Phil Gaimon (Kenda-5 Hour Energy) — 217
2. Patrick Bevin (Bissell Pro Cycling) — 195
3. Alexander Candelario (Team Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) — 108
4. Francisco Mancebo (Competitive Cyclist Racing Team) — 106
5. Evan Huffman (California Giant Berry Farms-Specialized) — 92
1. Megan Guarnier (Team TIBCO-To the Top) — 237
2. Joelle Numainville (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) — 161
3. Alison Powers (NOW and Novartis for MS) — 155
4. Amber Neben (Specialized-lululemon) — 108
5. Loren Rowney (Specialized-lululemon) — 101
1. Kenda-5 Hour Energy — 295
2. Bissell — 263
3. Team Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies — 208
4. California Giant Berry Farms-Specialized — 160
5. Competitive Cyclist — 113
1. Team TIBCO-To the Top — 310
2. Optum Pro Cycling-Kelly Benefit Strategies — 290
3. NOW and Novartis for MS — 249
4. Exergy Twenty12 — 132
5. FCS-Rouse-Mr Restore — 94
Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake before studying English and journalism at the University of Oregon. He has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon.
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