Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Redlands Stage 2: Downtown Crit

Stage 2 of the Redlands Cycling Classic is a smokin' fast criterium in downtown Redlands. Nine turns, the best racers in America, lotsa crash-potential, and overzealous crowds make it a really great race. Here's my report on VeloNews.com along with some snaps.

Teams don't typically share their soigneurs with each other, but Aaron's Meredith Miller kinda brings that out in people. She's a hammer on the bike, and a great person wherever she is. Here, ValueAct Capital soigneur, Molly, gives Meredith's legs a rub-down before the race while Meredith dishes with Martina Patella.
These are our ValueAct Capital hosts -- Joe, Leslie, and their oldest daughter, Caty -- at the race to cheer on their VAC girls. Joe and Leslie are firefighters and just about the nicest people you could meet. When I referred to myself as an "embedded reporter," Leslie said I'm more of an "emfloored reporter," as I was sleeping in a sleeping bag on the floor of her daughters' room all week!
Waiting for the start of the women's race.
Though this is not the best picture since I caught her scratching her nose, I was happy for VAC's Leah Goldstein when she got called up at the start -- she was in 11th place in the GC, and the first 15 were called up. I put her in the race notes of yesterday's report on VeloNews.com because she is back racing her first full NRC season after having a horrific crash at the Cascade Classic in 2005. She crashed on a 40 mph descent and had terrible injuries, including severe damage to her face. She is truly amazing, and it is very inspiring to see her racing -- and racing incredibly strong. You'll hear more from her, guaranteed.
This is Abbey, a beautiful 9-year-old who is the National Spokesperson for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, singing the national anthem before the women's race. I talked to her mom on the sidelines, and she said Abbey's form of MD is very rare, and, thankfully, not fatal. She was absolutely fearless in front of the large crowd, and when she finished and everyone went crazy with applause, she smiled, confidently looked at the women lined up to race in front of her, and gave them a "thumbs-up" with an enthusiastic "Good luck!"
And, of course, her singing and enthusiasm brought a lot of the women to tears -- Team High Road's Kim Anderson, far right here, had to take her glasses off to wipe her eyes, and was clearly very moved.
European races like the Grand Tours are famous for their podium girls. In America, of course, we're all about equity, so Redlands has podium boys...woo-hoo! Here, one of them gives Alex Wrubleski, the day's second placed racer, her stage medal.
The women's podium, left to right: Webcor Builders' Alex Wrubleski in second, 19-year-old Swede Emilia Fahlin of Team High Road in first, and Advil-Chapstick's Brenda Lyons in third.
Mara Abbott remained in the yellow and red jerseys and Alex was in green.
And the men's stage podium, Cuban Luis Alberto Amaran of Colavita-Sutter Homes in second, Jeff Louder of Bissell in first, and Toyota-United's Ivan Dominguez, also of Cuba, in third. I caught Ivan in an interesting pose here.
And on my way back to the car, I caught these little Aaron's fans....their parents have hosted the Aaron's team in years past. There was a third little guy with them in a jersey, but apparently he'd had enough of being chased by the papparazzi all day, and refused when I asked their mom. No worries, little guy -- your support of Aaron's women's racing is plenty enough!

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