Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Really-Late Redlands Wrap-Up

I got to cover the last two days of the 25th Redlands Cycling Classic in Redlands, Cali for two weekends ago. My third year there, and it feels like home!Saturday was the downtown criterium -- beautiful weather! -- and retired pro and former Olympian, Christine Thorburn, was awarded the Redlands Legends award prior to the start of the pro women's crit. One of my first articles for VeloNews was about the level of education in the women's pro peloton, and I used Christine's old team, Webcor Builders, as she's an MD and former teammate Felicia Gomez is a PhD (and my friend!). And on the far left here is Scott Welsh, the media director for the Classic. He's always makes me feel like somebody, which I realize is his job...but still makes me feel like I really am somebody!
Columbia-High Road's Mara Abbott at the call-up for the women's race. She wore the yellow jersey every day last year, but lost it to then-Webcor Builder's Alex Wrubleski by one second from time bonuses the final day. Alex is her teammate this year. Pretty good strategy, I'd say.
ValueAct Capital's Kristin Sanders at the call-up. A little trivia about Kristin -- big NASCAR fan.
My only attempt at an artsy shot over the weekend...apparently my artsy synapses weren't firing.
Team Tibco's Lauren Tamayo and Meredith Miller. Laura's been hitting the podium a lot this season, and Meredith is as much a hammer as usual. Her team camp bbq skills are apparently in peak form, as well.
Alison Powers of Team Type 1, and the current National Time Trial Champion. While there are many incredible women in the pro peloton, I have to say that Alison stands out as being genuinely down to earth and happy-like-a-kid when she wins. Fun to see good souls do well.
Katheryn Mattis of Webcor Builders. Former national champion, and rides with the U.S. National Team in Europe each season, typically coming home with some great results. And her latest claim to fame? Starting the "Cyclist's Recipe Exchange Group" on Facebook. We're all eternally grateful.
I know, the anticipation is building for who won the women's race, but the podium wasn't done until the men's race started. So you'll have to wait so I can keep my pictures in order. This is the beginning of the call-up for the men's race. BMC's Jeff Louder was in yellow -- BMC is doing Paris-Roubaix this week! -- and Bissell's Tom Zirbel is next to him in his team's red and black. I interviewed Tom for the first time at the Sequoia Classic three years ago -- he was sitting down recovering after the race. Why is that significant? Because it wasn't until I interviewed him just before the podium this year -- while he was standing -- that I realized how dang tall he is. Or perhaps it's that I'm so short...whatever.
This is what really happens at the call-up: Everyone adjusts their equipment (as Ouch-Maxxis's Rory Sutherland is doing) and chit-chats while others are called (like Bissell's Ben Jacques-Maynes and a BMC rider are doing).
Andy "The Baj" Bajadali of Kelly Benefits Strategies at the call-up. He was the overall winner at Redlands in 2007. And NEWSFLASH: is currently leading the GC at the Tour of Thailand!!! Very cool!
The men's field as they got final instructions from a USA Cycling official. Yada-yada-yada.
The crowds come out in full force for the crit each year. It's pretty darned impressive that this bike race has been going on for 25 years. It's run completely by volunteers, and they're a great group.
And the women's crit podium...Germany's Ina-Yoko Teutenberg of Columbia-High Road took the sprint (no news here...), followed closely by Colavita-Sutter Homes's Tina Pic, and Webcor Builder's Gina Grain, a Canadian who went to Beijing on their Olympic team last year. Tina has been U.S. National Crit champ about five times.
And the overall women's podium at the end of the day -- Nurnberger-Shoair's Amber Neben, an American who races the rest of her season in Europe and is the current World Champion in the time trial, is in yellow, and Teutenberg's in green.
And the men's overall podium after the crit: Jeff Louder in yellow still, Kirk Carlsen of Garmin's U23 developmental squad in red, and Colavita-Sutter Homes's Kyle Wamsley in green.
Really?!!! With 300 professional cyclists in town?!!!
This was my hang-out spot the next day at the final stage -- the Sunset circuit race. For you neo-cyclists (or never-cyclists), KOM is King of the Mountain (or Queen for the women, but there's rarely a Q). Points are awarded on various laps to the first riders across the line and the winner wears a red climber's jersey. It's likely red after the red-and-white polka dot climber's jersey in the Tour de France.
And I hung out with Sean Weide! He's the media guru for Team Type 1, and a damn good guy. It was our "friend-iversary," as we bonded at the KOM last year when I followed him around like a puppy because he's great at getting about 20 consecutive numbers of racers as they go by.
To kill time while waiting for the racers to come around each lap (women did 9 laps at an average of about 17 minutes each while men did 12 laps at an average of about 15 minutes each) all the reporters/photogs did things like call each other's phones to hear cool ring tones. Kirsten Robbins of is sharing hers with us's the song from the Mac commercial (I don't know the name, but it's a great song).
The women's podium back downtown was Alison Powers in first, Kiwi Joanne Kiesanowski of Team Tibco in second, and Aussie Nikki Butterfield of Webcor Builders in third. The race finishes on the same course as the previous day's crit, which has some pretty gnarly chicanes just prior to the final turn into the finish. Alison is a former U.S. National Team skiier, and her ability to make it through tight, quick turns served her well here.
Redlands always has podium girls -- and boys. Gotta love the equity!
And the final women's podium: Teutenberg in yellow, Neben in second (by just one second due to time bonuses....eerily like last year, minus Abbott and Wrubleski), Powers took third, down just 27 seconds, and Colavita-Sutter Homes's Tiffany Cromwell took the climber's jersey.
The women of Tibco took the team classification. I think skeptical-looking Lauren was looking for the pizza I confiscated from the VIP area for the team while they were waiting for the podium.
This is not a good pic, as it's fuzzy and not framed well because I turned too late, but I thought it was cool that this little girl wanted her pic taken with Teutenberg and teammate Kim Anderson while they waited for the podium. Female cycling rock stars and their little groupies -- that rocks! And Ina gave her podium flowers to the little girl -- sah-wheet!
The men's Sunset podium: Matt Damon-look-alike Kyle Wamsley soloed across the line first, followed by Kirk Carlsen, and Canadian Jacob Erker of Kelly Benefits Strategies was third.
And the men's final podium: Louder retained the yellow jersey by five seconds, Zirbel was second, Ben Day of Fly V Australia (who won San Dimas the weekend before) was third, while Carlsen took home the climber's jersey, and Wamsley took the sprinter's competition (the green jersey).
The young pups of Garmin's U23 Development team took the team competition -- pretty amazing, especially given they're all 21 and younger -- and did a little group bonding while waiting for the team podium.
And the team podium. Some happy youngsters. And they were really all smiles when the podium girls were giving them the traditional two-cheek kisses. I think there was a little blushing going on, too.
Another Redlands wrapped up! Posed for one final pic with Sean and his friend, Ed, then met the ValueAct Capital women at one of their host houses for dinner before retiring to my host house to write my story late into the night.
You can see the crit report here.
And the final report here.

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