By Sean Egle / Staff Writer
By Sean Egle / Staff Writer
The 28th annual Redlands Bicycle Classic hosted some of the world’s elite riders in both the men’s and women’s categories.
The nearly 300 mile race was held in both the cities of Redlands and Beaumont, over a four day span from March 22 through March 25.
The bicycle classic is one of the longest running stage races in America, and has hosted some of cycling’s most iconic names.
The race is also the first race which opens the National Racing Calendar.
This year’s event held four stages: The Sun Time Trial-Prologue, City of Beaumont Road Race, City of Redlands Criterium, and Beaver Medical Group Sunset Road Race.
Each stage of the race consists of its own technical courses and mileages.
The four day event started with a 3.1 mile time trial event that challenged each rider on an individual level.
In the time trial, there is no help from the riders’ respective team, just the rider and his or her bicycle.
Phillip Gaimon held the fastest time over the 191 men that entered the competition with an overall time of 9:25.
Gaimon admitted that every team had their own rider that could make a move to win the race.
“We’re just taking it one day at a time,” he said.
Gaimon was holding his lead just two second above the next rider.
Megan Guarnier was the fastest woman on the day, beating out 86 other competitors to claim top spot on the podium with a time of 11:19.
Day two of the event would test the riders on a different scale: endurance.
With a looped course making its way throughout Beaumont, the men rode a 120.5 mile course and the women rode a 72.3 mile course.
Patrick Bevin of Bissell Pro Cycling claimed the victory with a time of 4:34:44.
Loren Rowney brought in the fastest time for the women, winning the stage in just over three hours.
Although winning one of the stages is a special moment for any cyclist, the overall win for the event is based on overall time that secures the race win and points in the general classification standings within the National Racing Calendar.
Both Gaimon and Guarnier held onto their overall lead after the second day of racing and headed into stage two wearing the yellow jersey.
Stage three would bring the riders back into Redlands with a 1.2 mile circuit.
The men endured a grueling 90 minutes worth of racing while the women battled it out for 60 minutes.
Bevin again showed the rest of the pack how to claim a stage win, making it two-for-two with one final day of racing ahead.
“I have no ambition to win the (overall) race, but I’m enjoying Redlands,” he said. “It was a comfortable pace and the win showed how strong the team is.”
Meanwhile, Guarnier defended her leader’s jersey while putting in a strong individual effort to claim second place on the day, just behind Joelie Numainville.
Day four sent the riders into the steep hills of Redlands on a course similar to the one raced in Beaumont two days prior.
Guarnier again showed she will be a true force to reckon with in the remainder of the 2012 National Racing Calendar as she claimed fifth place on the day, giving her the overall win by a margin of three seconds.
And while Guarnier remained undefeated, Loren Rowney returned to the podium with a third placed finish.
“I felt good today; I don’t consider myself the greatest climber, so to be up there with those girls was good,” she said.
The weather played its part for the men’s race, as temperatures dropped into the low 50s with strong winds and rain.
Many riders chose to forgo attempting to finish the race and “abandoned,” or dropped out of the race, as a result of fatigue, weather or a combination of factors.
At the finish, Bevin once again claimed top spot on the podium making it three wins in three consecutive stages.
The impressive display puts Bevin into second overall in the point’s classification in National Racing Calendar.
Like Guarnier, Gaimon kept the leader’s jersey throughout the four day event.
Taking fifth place on stage three, he finished in first place with the same margin of two seconds to none other than Bevin.