The US domestic road season will begin in earnest this week in California when USA Cycling's 2019 Pro Road Tour rolls out at the Redlands Bicycle Classic, a five-stage race that starts Wednesday with a brand-new 11.3km opening time trial.
Moving back to its traditional opening spot on the US national calendar after a move to May last year, Redlands is celebrating its 35th year on the calendar and is the longest continuously running pro stage race in the US. Former winners include Davis Phinney, Alexi Grewal, Jonathan Vaughters, Kristin Armstrong, Megan Guarnier and Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, among others.
This year's men's roster includes seven UCI teams led by the Hagens Berman Axeon Pro Continental team of defending champion Thomas Revard. Also on the start line for the opening time trial will be the new Floyd’s Pro Cycling team, which features Serghei Tvetcov and previous Redlands stage winner Travis McCabe. Aevolo will bring Luis Villalobos, who shone last year at the Tour of Utah and signed with WorldTour EF Education First for the second half of this season.
Wildlife Generation, the new team that rose from the ashes of the long-running Jelly Belly program, will make its first appearance on the national calendar. Former US road champion Greg Daniel will take the start line with his new team, DC Bank Pro Cycling, while Elevate-KHS and 303 Project round out the UCI teams. Gateway Harley Davidson and Hangar 15 lead the group of men's domestic elite teams, while Mexican road champion Orlando Garibay will be guest riding with SoCalCycling.com.
The women's field will feature four UCI teams in Hagens Berman-Supermint, Rally UHC, Sho-Air Twenty20 and Tibco-SVB. Defending champion Katie Hall moved from UnitedHealthcare to the European powerhouse team Boels Dolmans this year and so will not be in Redlands to defend her title. Instead the field will be wide open, with seven more teams - including Amy D Foundation, Trek-Red Truck and Durango-Specialized of Mexico - rounding out the field.
The racing in Redlands starts Wednesday with the 11.3km Crafton Hills time trial. The course descends gently down Sand Canyon Road to the turnaround as riders start the climb back to the finish. With the general classification pecking order set, the pelotons will take on the traditional Highland Circuit Race for stage 2. The 4.5km course in the city of Highland takes the riders downhill on winding residential roads before a brief flat-but-technical section and then a short, steep climb to the start finish. The men will race 93.5km and the women will tackle 66.5km
The climb up Oak Glen Road returns for stage 3 at the Yucaipa Road Race. The stage starts with multiple laps on a 22.5km circuit before the final 8.6km leg to the summit finish on Oak Glen Road, where Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) first rode to prominence in the US with a win there in 2016. The men will race 144.5km and the women race 99km.
Stage 4 on Saturday, March 16, takes place on the downtown Redlands criterium course that has become a staple of the US scene. The nearly figure-eight, nine-corner course is highly technical and very fast. The men will race for 90 minutes and the women will race for 60.
And, of course, the Sunset Loop Road Race is back for the final day. Stage 5 starts and finishes on the same downtown criterium course the pelotons competed on the day before, but in between those starting and closing laps the riders will head up to the Sunset Loop for multiple laps on a 10.4km circuit that provides plenty of ups and downs but very little flat ground. The Redlands overall lead often changes on the challenging final stage.
The 2019 men's and women's overall winners will be crowned back in downtown Redlands on the familiar criterium course.
The 2019 USA Cycling Pro Road Tour will continue April 4-7 with the Joe Martin Stage Race, followed by the Sunny King Criterium in Alabama on April 13 and the Tour of the Gila stage race May 1-7.
2019 USA Cycling Pro Road Tour
March 13-17: Redlands Bicycle Classic (M/W) - Stage Race
April 4-7: Joe Martin Stage Race (M/W) UCI 2.2 - Stage Race
April 13: Sunny King Criterium (M/W) - Criterium
May 1-5: Tour of Gila (M/W) UCI 2.2 - Stage Race
May 11: Rochester Twilight (M/W) - Criterium
May 18: Wilmington Grand Prix (M/W) - Criterium
May 25: Winston Salem Criterium (M/W) - Criterium
May 27: Winston Salem Cycling Classic (M/W) UCI 1.1 - Road Race
June 1-2: Armed Forces Cycling Classic (M/W) - Criterium
June 7-9: Tulsa Tough (M/W) - Crit Omnium
June 12-16: North Star Grand Prix (M/W) - Stage Race
July 12: Chrono Kristin Armstrong (M/W) UCI 1.2 - TT
July 13: Andersen Banducci Twilight Criterium (M/W) - Criterium
July 13: Detroit Cycling Championships (M/W) - Criterium
August 12-18: Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah (M) UCI 2.HC - Stage Race
August 22-25: Colorado Classic (W) UCI - Stage Race
Aug. 30-Sept. 2: Gateway Cup (M/W) - Crit Omnium
September 8: Thompson Criterium of Doylestown (M/W) - Criterium
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Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake. He studied English and journalism at the University of Oregon and 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, with his imaginary dog Rusty.
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