Kirchmann, Zirbel Claim Three Stages in California, Zwizanski Wins in New York
Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies continued on its string of early season successes over the weekend, delivering Leah Kirchmann to two stage wins and third overall at California’s 30th annual Redlands Bicycle Classic, the National Racing Calendar’s traditional season opener. Tom Zirbel took the win on stage four’s Big Bear time trial course, on his way to finishing 4th overall. Teammate Will Routley finished 5th overall.
Women’s Performance Manager Pat McCarty was pleased with the effort at his first weekend of NRC racing.
“We are extremely proud of the entire team for how they preformed in one of North America’s premiere events,” said McCarty, “Leah has proven she is capable of riding with the best, and the entire team put 100% of their efforts into giving her the best chance to win the overall. Every stage was approached to maximize Leah’s chances for victory, and to consolidate her position in the general classification. This is a great sign for us moving forward.”
Across the country, at New York’s rugged Tour de Battenkill, Scott Zwizanski was able to claim a solo victory on the grueling backcountry course after making the short hop to Cambridge, NY from his hometown of West Chester, PA.
“With about 30 kilometers left, we were approaching a very steep dirt climb, which there are a lot of at Battenkill, I sensed it was time to attack.” said Zwizanski. “I hit the climb hard, got a good gap, and went into time trial mode. Everything clicked today, and it’s great to take another win for the team, especially when I know the guys are working so hard at Redlands.”
Men Fight Tactical Battle for Overall
The men’s team at Redlands, fighting a weeklong battle for the yellow jersey that Tom Zirbel narrowly claimed in Friday’s time trial, planned to dislodge race leader Travis McCabe (Team SmartShop) and bring the yellow jersey back into Zirbel’s hands. A breakaway on the final loop around Redlands proved decisive, ultimately launching Joey Rosskopf (Hincapie Development Team) to a solo stage win and the overall title.
“Our team always races for the yellow jersey, but unfortunately we couldn’t quite pull things off today in what proved to be a very competitive race,” said Men’s Performance Director Jonas Carney. “That is part of what makes cycling so dynamic – it isn’t simply about horsepower in every case, and tactics played a roll in the finale. We raced hard all week and I think what we saw here in Redlands shows there is going to be a lot of fun, competitive racing in the US this year.”
Kirchmann Battles for Yellow on Sunset Loop
Kirchmann entered the final day of racing, Sunday’s grueling Sunset Loop circuit race, with a slim ten second lead in the overall standings. The circuit, designed around an unrelenting climb through the foothills surrounding downtown Redlands, saw two riders, Mara Abbott (United Healthcare) and Tayler Wiles (Specialized-lululemon) escape in the final thirty kilometers.
“As usual, the decisive day of Redlands was on the Sunset Loop, and we knew it was on us to defend Leah’s yellow jersey on a tough course,” said Women’s Performance Director Kevin Field. “They defended admirably, but two riders were able to slip away unmarked, and that proved to be the difference maker today.”
Redlands Bicycle Classic Men’s Roster
Redlands Bicycle Classic Women’s Roster