Neben wins 4th Redlands Bicycle Classic title, Clevenger claims final stage
March 17, 2019 (Redlands, CA) – Erica Clevenger (Sho-Air) claimed victory on the final day of the Redlands Bicycle Classic, outsprinting Sara Poidevin (Rally UHC) in a thrilling Sunset Loop Road Race finale. Lauren Stephens (Tibco SVB) took third place after driving her two breakaway companions to the line in an attempt to claim GC. Her efforts boosted her to second overall.
“This is my second year at Redlands, this is my biggest result of my career,” Clevenger said. “I have never had a stage podium before, so this is the coolest thing ever. We had amazing team work throughout the race, even without the win this was really special for all of us. We were looking forward to this day, this is a favorite of ours. We had a really good race at Oak Glen and I think we took over the Team GC so I’m super stoked about that too.”
Amber Neben did enough to control the breakaway to secure the yellow jersey as the overall winner by 39 seconds ahead of Stephens, earning her fourth Redlands title of her career. Stephens teammate, Emily Newsom, took third place a minute back.
“I really came in with no expectations because I haven’t done a lot of top-end intensities so I didn’t know how good I was,” Neben said. “I knew I had a lot of depth to my fitness but I didn’t know if I would be good enough to do the road race. I figured I would have a good time trial but then it’s always – the road race is always difficult. I knew I had a young team and this is such a hard race to win without support. My expectations were just to go for it in the time trial and see how long I could defend the jersey if I had it. Everyday you’re one day closer, you start thinking about winning it.”
The 68-mile race started off quietly, but after the first lap the fireworks started, with five riders gaining some distance on the pack. They included Clevenger, Poidevin, Stephens, sprint leader Lily Williams (Supermint) and Emily Marcolini (Tibco). They averaged a two-minute gap for the majority of the stage until the final climb, when Stephens pushed the pace, dispatching Williams and Marcolini. The three carried on, with Stephens sitting at the front, trying to time trial her way to a GC win. She couldn’t outpace the peloton, however, and had to be content with second overall.
“Today we were all in to try and take over the leaders jersey, what I did today was part of the plan. The goal was to get Emily (Newsom) to come across but there never was the opportunity and then we were racing for. I had to put in quite a bit of time on Amber (Neben) to be able to take over the jersey so I wasn’t quite able to get that much time.
“Sunset is a great course, we always say everything changes on Sunset so no matter what happens the days before,” Stephens said. “I actually had a bad climb on Oak Glen so to finish up where I am now is pretty impressive because I had dropped down to seventh. I got from second to seventh on Oak Glen.”
Williams secured the sprint jersey, Krista Doebel-Hickok (Rally UHC) won the mountains classification and Anna Dorovskikh (Amy D Foundation) claimed best amateur jersey.
Photos: Dan Munson / Redlands Bicycle Classic