Team rider Ulises Castillo had a breakthrough ride at his first crack at the Redlands Bicycle Classic. He finished 3rd on Saturday’s Criterium, and was one of the few riders to enter the Downtown Circuits the next day at the end of the Sunset Circuit Race. I asked Ulises to tell me about his experience over the two final stages, and I have paraphrased his experience here.
Stage 4 RBC Criterium, 90 minutes:
This was one of the hardest criteriums I have ever raced. This was my first NRC Stage Race, so everything was new. For the criterium, I was not sure what to expect, but I did know I wanted to be in the breakaway. However, I did not set myself up very well for that. I was warming up with the team before the race, and when we went to line up, we were the last guys in the peloton. This was a big mistake, because it was very hard for me to move up through the field. I had to move up on the outside of the pack in order to pass guys, and it took me 30 minutes to get to the front of the race.
My teammate Chris Barton had been in the first breakaway of the race and a new move had just gone up the road when I reached the front. Luis Amaran from Jamis and I bridged across to the two riders up the road, and we were soon joined by two more riders, which would make the final break of the day with 60 minutes remaining on the technical, 9-turn course.
I had to work very, very hard to keep the breakaway away from the field as they were chasing very hard. Several riders in the breakaway crashed in a turn, so it was pretty chaotic. With four turns to go, I went to the front because I wanted to be first through 3 turns to go. The Cal Giant rider, who won the race, came fast on my inside. This pushed me out, and Amaran stayed on Cal Giant’s wheel. I was able to hold onto 3rd for the finish.
Stage 5 RBC Sunset Circuit Race, 95 miles:
Being the 5th and final stage of the event, this race was challenging. The course is very hard, but I like these types of stages because thing climbing isn’t all at once. But racing 12 laps of it was really tough. The laps were 7 mile loops with 500+ feet of climbing on a punchy route. The loop is so short, so many racers get pulled so that the groups wouldn’t overlap. This means that the peloton whittles down from over 150 riders to 40 in the finish circuits downtown. On the descent leading into town, I attacked with 10K to go. I was off the front with a Hincapie rider, but he did not want to work, so we just went back to the peloton.
Once we got into town, we had 5 laps of the criterium course. On the last lap I was 4th wheel, and I really just couldn’t hold on any longer. The finish came down to a sprint of about 20 riders out of the 40 that came into the circuits, and did the best I could to finish top 30.
I felt positive about the whole week of racing. It was a very hard week on the bicycle, but a great experience and training, and great event for the whole team.
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