By Katie Donovan

I appreciate brevity, especially when it comes to race reports. But even I find it difficult to write a brief summary of the Redlands Bicycle Classic. No one held the leader’s jersey for the entire race, which always makes for some exciting racing. Here is a breakdown of each stage from our team’s standpoint:

Stage Two:
3rd Place and QOM Jersey - Kathryn Donovan

Stage Four:
1st place and Spriter Jersey- Lauretta Hanson

Stage 1: Highland Circuits

This was a short and fast stage that came down to an uphill field sprint.  Emma said she was feeling good for the finish so we tried to get her into a good position going into the final circuit lap.  Scottie Wilborn from Hagens Berman attacked early and held off the field for the win. Emma tried to go with her but was passed at the line by the race’s GC favorites ;  Kristen Armstrong, Alison Jackson and Maura Abbott.  During the race, I covered moves that went on the QOM laps just in case they stuck and ended up second to Sara Poidevin (Rally Cycling) in the climbers competition.

Stage 2: Oak Glen

This is the kind of stage I always look forward to - a hilltop finish.  I knew I could snag the climbers jersey if I went for points on the circuit laps and then had a strong finish.  My teammates, Lauretta, Whitney and Jess all kept me in good position throughout the race and strung the field out for the QOM points.  I kept coming in behind Sara, but I was just trying to get as many points as possible.  Coming off the circuit laps and going into the climb, I found myself on the right hand side of the road and in the gutter, but I was on Lauretta’s wheel and I trusted her to deliver me into the perfect spot going into the final climb.  Abby Mickey (Amy D Foundation) set tempo and when she pulled off, Amber Neban (Dare to Be Project) took over. We were a small group at that point and Maura Abbott attacked.  Kristen Armstrong was the only one who was able to go with her.  This basically shattered what was left of the group and I just rode as hard as I could without blowing up.  I finished 3rd on the stage coming in about 10 second back from Kristen.  This moved into the climber's jersey. Mara Abbott won the stage and moved into yellow.

Stage 3: Time Trial

This year’s field was stacked with talented time trialists.  Despite all the work I made Jess Cutler do for me the day before, she was still able to pull off solid ride which landed her a top 20 results.  Kristen Armstrong’s win in the time trial moved her into the yellow jersey with a comfortable lead.

Stage 4: Criterium

The Redlands Crit is a hard, technical course.  If you find yourself too far back, its almost impossible to move up.  I'm not a huge fan of crits, but I was excited for this stage because I was confident we had the fastest sprinter in the field.  Lauretta Hansen crushed it.  Everytime I heard the announcer say Lauretta’s name for the sprint points it gave me motivation to keep myself in the mid-pack draft and not drift back further.  Lauretta secured the green jersey by getting the mid race sprint points and winning the stage.  I was able to watch a video of the finish afterwards, and she made it look easy.

Stage 5: Sunset Loops

Sunset has always been one of my favorite stages.  It’s a selective course that has the potential of never easing up.  There were QOM points and time bonuses on the first lap, just a few miles into the race.  This meant that the neutral was FAST.  I had Lauretta, Jess and Whitney with me in the front making sure I stayed in a good position.  Lauretta's Sprinter's Jersey was pretty secure at this point, but my QOM jersey wasn’t.  I knew that a short, punchy climb suited Sara  much better than it did myself.  Still, my teammates were there for me 100 percent and I am humbled they did so much work for me so that I could give it a try.  It’s always hard to ask your teammates to give so much of themselves when you yourself are unsure as to whether you will get the desired outcome.  On the first QOM lap, I tried to go early, but the GC riders came around me to sweep up the time bonuses. Sara scooped up the last point.  I knew then that I had to go even earlier or else I was just going to slowly lose the jersey.  A lap before the next KOM, I used the climb to bridge up to a break that was up the road with two Twenty16 riders.  I was hoping it would at least last until the next KOM but we were caught about a kilometer from the line.  I gave it one last go, but Sarah was able to out-sprint me.  After that, a break went up the road with Leah Thomas from Twenty16 , who stayed away for the rest of the race and took the stage win.