The 38th addition of the Redlands Bicycle Classic proved to be exciting from the beginning. The event was to begin with a 7.8 mile Individual Time Trial in Big Bear, CA. However, with a late spring storm descending on the mountain town Tuesday night, the stage was cancelled due to snow conditions.
Losing the first stage meant that the Yucaipa Road Race, Stage 2, would be a hotly contested challenging day as the general classification was yet to be set. With 95 miles of racing and over 9,000ft of climbing, the Queen Stage lived up to its expectations.
Within the first lap of 6 circuits, the group had already lost upwards of 30 riders. The pace continued as a team jokeyed for position in the KOM and Sprint Competitions. With a break of 4 up the road leading into the final climb up Oak Glen, the Elevate-KHS Team worked hard on the front to bring the time gap down. Ultimately the break was caught and climbers James Piccoli and Jordan Cheyne placed 10th and 13th respectively.
Stage 3 was hosted in the city of Highland, where the peloton raced a blistering 20 laps of the 2.8 mile Highland Circuit Race. Each lap found the riders charging up the steep Baseline climb where attrition and positioning became key. A solo rider was off the front as the laps wound down, putting the Elevate-KHS team in great position while the Axeon and United HealthCare teams worked hard to bring the race finale down to a sprint.
With the addition of Elevate-KHS at the front of the race, James Piccoli placed himself safely behind the team, and as the began the final assault up Baseline, Jordan Cheyne put in one final monster dig to drop James off for the sprint finish. Ultimately, James finished 3rd on the stage with a great team effort over the 58 mile event.
The Saturday Criterium is not only a fan-favorite event, but one that the team knew they could execute a great race. With temperatures over 95F, the team knew they had their work cut out for them during the 90 minute technical event.
A large crash occurred 30 minutes into the race, neutralizing the field and causing a restart of the stage. The team was down to 6 riders for the remaining 60 minutes of racing, and each athlete stepped up to the plate to make this stage one for the record books.
A small yet threatening break was up the road with 5 laps to go. The team amassed at the front, and led by Brian McCulloch, took over the lead out with 3 laps remaining. All hands were on deck as the team methodically picked up the pace, protected the sprinters and set Sam Bassetti up with half a lap to go to finish off the lead out. Sam attacked down the slight downhill leading into 3 turns to go and never looked back. With Scott Law safely tucked on his wheel, the two exited the final turn to the finish line in 1st and 2nd position which they held over the line.
Stage 5 is one of the most iconic stages in America. The Sunset Road Race take the peloton up into the hills of Redlands where they complete 12 technical circuits with ample climbing before descending back down into Redlands for 5 finishing circuits on the criterium course.
Going into the stage, James Piccoli was placed 6th overall and the team had aspirations of another podium finish on the day. With Nick Torraca, Sam Bassetti, Jordan Cheyne and James all in the front group, the team was able to place 1-2 riders in each threatening move as the laps wound down.
Ultimately, a solo rider from Holowesko Citadel – Brendan Rhim – got away solo to win the stage. It was apparent that what remained of the field would come down to a final sprint to end the day. With Sam Bassetti in the group, Piccoli and Cheyne worked diligently to position him for the final sprint.
With a bike throw at the finish, Sam placed 3rd on the day, capping off what is the teams most successful PRT campaign to date.
All photos credit: DMunsonphoto.com
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