Redlands, CA – After a successful first race in San Dimas, the team packed up our vehicles to the brim and made the short trip west to the Redlands Bicycle Classic, kicking off the National Racing Calendar (NRC) series in the US.
This is typically the first race of the year where all the top UCI Continental squads turn out to do battle over the 5 days of racing. This year in particular had a field stacked with guys who have competed in the biggest races in the world, including a former winner of the Vuelta a Espana. Needless to say it promised be a difficult race, but carrying our momentum from the week prior, Team H&R Block Pro Cycling felt up to the challenge.
Stage 1 was a tight, hectic circuit race around the city of Highland. After some tight cornering through a neighborhood, the course looped onto a large boulevard for a very steep, punchy finish. Carrying his excellent early season form, Adam was able to land a 7th place finish on the stage, putting himself in the hunt for a top finish in the final GC.
For the 2nd day, teams made the trek up to Big Bear Lake for a ripping fast 12.5km time trial. This was a true specialist’s course but Adam was able to stay within contention of his GC rivals with a good showing on his part.
The 3rd stage would prove to be very decisive with a difficult circuit to wear on the legs of everyone, followed by a 9km ascent to Oak Glen Village for the first mountain top finish at this race in many years. The team really pulled together on this stage, well represented in every move and eventually launching Travis into a 2-man breakaway where he secured valuable points in the sprint competition. The others were able to keep Adam fed, watered and out of the wind for him to do his climbing thing in the finale. Things were executed perfectly and he didn’t disappoint, finishing 6th on the stage and also moving up another spot on GC.
The infamous Redlands criterium took place on Saturday evening, and the theme for us was about staying safe and as fresh as possible going into Sunday’s Queen Stage. It was mission accomplished despite a hectic race, and as a bonus we had Peter Disera duking it out for the stage win from a small breakaway group. All that after crashing in the final laps…this kid is tough as nails.
Finally, Sunday brought the Queen Stage of the whole week. Sunset loop is a day that has left its mark on anyone to take part. It’s technical, nervous, and very hard racing, with a fine topping of sweltering heat and a big race on the line. The team all rallied around Adam to keep him out of trouble for as long as possible before it would be up to him to finish off the final laps of downtown Redlands. Everyone played their part which resulted not only in defending 6th place overall, but even jumping up to 5th with an intermediate time bonus during the stage.
This first two weeks of racing as a team has confirmed that we’re here to play ball and can compete with the best. Next up is the Sea Otter Classic a little further up the California coast in Monterey. The team is looking to carry on this recent success and land the first big win soon.
The M1 Project will be posting regularly on what it’s like to plan, prepare, and compete as a UCI Continental Professional Cycling Team.
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