Erica Clevenger (DNA Pro Cycling) won the final stage of the Redlands Classic but it was Heidi Franz (Instafund) who made the biggest move on the day, escaping halfway into the stage and storming away to snatch the overall victory from overnight leader Emily Marcolini (3T Q-M Cycling).
The hilly Sunset Loop circuit is a notoriously difficult stage, with the general classification tough to defend on the 110 kilometre final stage. Overnight leader Emily Marcolini (3T Q-M Cycling) came into the stage with 1:01 on second-placed Diana Peñuela (DNA Pro Cycling) but was not content to simply sit in. With a time bonus on the first time up the climb, the Canadian attacked and was closely tracked by Peñuela at the QOM, with Haley Smith (ATX Wolfpack) and stage 1 winner Heidi Franz (Instafund) just behind.
The attacks continued on the climbs with fewer riders rejoining on the downhill sections until there were only 14 riders left in the leading group. Marcolini, having taken the second QOM, pressed on again for the third climb and claimed the maximum points.
However, a counter-attack flew at the halfway point, with Franz and Erica Clevenger (DNA Pro Cycling) forging clear and steadily built their lead. Although Marcolini sewed up the QOM jersey by taking fourth on the final classified climb, the gap to the two leaders grew enough to threaten her overall victory.
With two 12km laps remaining, Franz, 3:21 down on Marcolini at the start of the stage, had taken the virtual race lead as the gap ballooned to almost four minutes and continued to go out.
At the bell lap, the two leaders had 4:40 on the chasers and as they returned from the hilly loop for the closing circuits, Franz had finally sealed the overall win having helped pull the gap out to more than six minutes.
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