Gontova Soars to Victory on Queen Stage, Taking Yellow

Nadia Gontova Soars to Victory atop Onyx Summit
Photo: VeloImages / Redlands Bicycle Classic

San Bernardino, California (April 11, 2024) – The pro women showed up and showed out for the Queen stage, racing up to the Onyx Summit for the first time in Redlands Bicycle Classic history. Nadia Gontova soared to victory for DNA Pro Cycling in a similar fashion as last year on Oak Glen, finishing solo with a solid 55-second gap ahead of second place finisher, Emma Langley of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Twenty24. Langley also maintained the Queen of the Mountains classification lead, nearly doubling her points on stage 2. Eleanor Wiseman was third for Fount Cycling.

“The plan was to go for the win, try to get some time on the finish if I was feeling good,” Gontova said.  “My teammates all rode such an amazing race from start to finish. It all played out so perfectly, I was really happy to have the legs to bring home the win in the end.”

The women raced for 40 miles, going full gas from kilometer zero. DNA Pro Cycling were one of several teams that had their riders warm up on the trainers prior to the roll out. The peloton saw the first and only intermediate sprint of the day at 5-miles into racing. Marlies Mejias of Virginia’s Twenty24 was first to jump, out sprinting her rivals to earn the first green jersey of the Redlands Classic. Many teams in the bunch were focused on the climb ahead, conserving their legs for the long trek up the mountain.

Virginia’s Blue Ridge Twenty24 Marlies Mejias leads the sprint classification Photo: VeloImages / Redlands Bicycle Classic

Daphne Karagianis of Denver Disrupters was first to test her legs, attacking the field shortly before the turn onto Highway 38 and the first mountain sprint line of the day. She managed to gain up to a 30-second gap, until the road began to pitch up ever so slightly and she was caught.

The climb had begun as one by one, riders began losing contact at the back of the peloton.  Soon it was dozens, as riders were strewn throughout the caravan, trying to keep the field within their sights facing a long day ahead. Making their way up the climb, the field had dwindled down to roughly 40 riders from the 123 that had started the day.

“My expectations was that it was going to be hard, and it definitely lived up to that,” Langley said. “We knew all day that it was going to be a game of conserving and being smart on the wheels, and so especially through to the finish.”

DNA Pro Cycling Sara Poidevin sets the tempo, with Emma Langley on her wheel Photo: VeloImages / Redlands Bicycle Classic

Nearing the halfway mark and the second QOM of the day, DNA Pro Cycling decided it was their time to go.  The plan from the start had been the stage win and yellow jersey, allowing other teams to battle for the QOM; they set their sights on the finish.

Former Mexican National Road Champion, Anet Barrera, increased the tempo as more and more riders were losing contact.  Soon it was Diana Peñuela’s turn for the team, taking over the pace near the feed zone. By then, the group had been cut in half, with roughly 25 riders following.  Nearing 10km to go, Barrera dropped off having done her work for the day, letting Sara Poidevin take over.

“It was a pretty big field going in the last little uphill,” Gontova said. “I knew it wasn’t the best finish for me, so I told my team, whoever could really drilled it on the front to bring the pace up. It really whittled it down. I could see people were getting tired. When I saw 4km to go, I got out of the headwind a little bit, the road went up and I knew it was now or never. It was very difficult and hot. I was really feeling the altitude, but I just told myself everyone was feeling it so it ended up playing out well in the end.”

The yellow jersey of Mara Roldan (Cynisca Cycling) had managed to maintain the tempo in the front group, but after being isolated was dropped close to 3km to the finish. Gontova took notice and launched her attack with such strength no one was able to follow. Jenaya Francis (Orion Racing) was the only rider who attempted to follow. Gontova eyed the move, and launched a second attack, but this time Francis had spent her final matches and was soon pedaling backwards.

“There was a small group, so I was motivating us to keep working together,” Langley added. “I knew that we would be stronger if we were still rotating as much as we could, try and limit the losses at that point. Nadia was gone, but we emptied the tank, I know I sure did.”

Gontova will start the Lake Perris individual time trial with a 55-second advantage ahead of Langley. Emily Erhlich remains a heavy favorite for the TT stage win, though she is out of contention for the overall general classification. Katherine Lin of A Quick Brown Fox team will be the first rider out of the starting house at 10:45 AM.

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First – Nadia Gontova (DNA Pro Cycling)
Second – Emma Langley (Virginia’s Blue Ridge Twenty24)
Third – Eleanor Wisen (Fount Cycling)
Photo: Above Four Media


Emma Langley (Virginia’s Blue Ridge Twenty24) in red QOM jersey, Nadia Gontova in yellow (DNA Pro Cycling), and Best Amateur Anna Dorovskikh (Orion Racing) in white.
Photo: Above Four Media