The 2014 men’s Redlands Bicycle Classic began with the Highland Circuit Race, which returned after a several-year absence, extending the race to five stages. A three-rider breakaway survived until the penultimate lap of the 20-lap opening stage when the team of Hincapie Sportswear came to the fore to set up a sprint finish for their 21-year-old from New Zealand, Dion Smith.
Smith capitalised on the strong lead-out to win the bunch kick ahead of Kiwi James Oram (Bissell Development Team) and Will Routley (Optum Pro Cycling). Bonus seconds for the win saw Smith take the overall lead by four seconds over Oram and six seconds over Routley.
The 12.5km stage 2 individual time trial was contested on the shores of Big Bear Lake (see feature image above) and was taken by Optum Pro Cycling’s Tom Zirbel. The win propelled Zirbel into the overall lead by one second over his teammate Will Routley, who placed sixth in the ITT, while Travis McCabe (SmartStop) moved into third on GC after finishing seventh.
Stage three featured five laps of a 38.8km circuit through the valleys and canyons near Beaumont and for the third day in a row, a new overall leader was crowned. Travis McCabe won both an early intermediate sprint and the final bunch kick, gaining enough bonus seconds to unseat Tom Zirbel at the top of the general classification. The win put McCabe five seconds clear of Zirbel overall and six seconds clear of Routley.
On stage 4 the riders took to the streets of Redlands with a 90-minute criterium and roughly 15 minutes into the race a group of three escaped from the main field. The escape grew to eight riders and then nine, including Australian former Budget Forklifts riders Jacob Kaufmann (Garneau Quebecor).
A series of attacks in the lead group formed a smaller quintet at the head of affairs and despite the best efforts of the chasing peloton, the leaders stayed away. Garneau Quebecor’s Pierrick Naud won the race in a sprint while the top of the GC remained unalterted: Travis McCabe still lead Zirbel and Routley with the final stage looming.
The stage 5 Sunset Loop is infamous for its challenging terrain southwest of Redlands and it was late in the day that a three-ride group escaped. As the race headed back into Redlands Joey Rosskopf (Hincapie Sportswear) bridged to the trio then attacked again to take a solo victory and the overall race win.
Rosskopf had started the final stage 22 seconds off the overall lead and ended up winning by six seconds ahead James Oram and 30 seconds ahead of stage 3 winner Travis McCabe.
Click here for a first-hand account from within the women’s race, courtesy of Specialized-Lululemon rider Loren Rowney.