Phil Gaimon and Mike Woods, two new additions to the team and two of its most talented climbers, put on an impressive display yesterday in stage three of the Redlands Bicycle Classic, with Gaimon winning solo after catapulting off of the stiff pace pushing by Woods on the steep slope to the finish line in Oak Glen. Woods was able to finish second after his efforts.
A team effort delivered the two climbing specialists to the base of the final 10 km ascent – each rider played a role in making the race as hard and fast as possible to set things up for the final push, which was handled adeptly by Woods and Gaimon. The duo was tucked safely into an elite 11-man group on the final climb, and after a surprise attack with 3 km to go by Gregory Brenes (Jamis-Hagens Berman), Woods took control of the pace, setting up Gaimon for a final push to the line. He crossed the line solo with a time of 3:05:11, with Woods in second, trailing by twelve seconds. Gaimon will wear yellow in stage four after the win.
In the women’s race, Lex Albrecht captured more Queen of the Mountain points to vault her further into the lead in the jersey competition after a hard day in the hills won by Mara Abbott (LA Sweat), one of the toughest climbers in the peloton. The Orange & Black women sit two seconds back in the team classification.
Phil Gaimon, Mike Woods, and Jonas Carney provide insight on the team’s decisive win in Redlands.
This is your first win on a domestic team on domestic soil after a year in the WorldTour. How does it feel?
I had plenty of good days last year and even one win, but the feeling never wears off. After the way the guys rode today, it would have been hard not to win to reward them for their efforts.
How did the team help you get a chance at the stage win and the yellow jersey today? How does it feel to be back in yellow at Redlands?
It was an incredible team effort today. Everyone rose to the occasion and did their job +25% on top. Tom Soladay and Pierrick Naud kept me fresh in the pack all day, Tom Zirbel put in a massive effort to bring me to the front on the last lap. Bjorn Selander, Jesse Anthony, and Will Routley whittled the group down to a very select few, and Woods rode like ten guys to keep a stiff tempo as everyone died behind him. It’s great to have yellow here at Redlands. The race has always been a special one to me, and I’m excited to seal the deal with my teammates this weekend.
You were there with Phil on the final climb, and finished second. Were you playing a helping role for a guy higher up the GC, testing the legs, or both?
With Phil having smashed the TT yesterday, and in a great spot on general classification, the plan was for the team to ride hard going on the final climb, and try to thin out the field as much as possible. I knew going into today, based off of my fitness, I had a good shot at winning, but my biggest goal was to make sure that we secured the yellow jersey. I took the lead with about 4.5 km to go, and tried to set Phil up as best as possible for the win. Fortunately I had enough in the tank to do that, and place second on the day.
How do you feel after a long run in Portugal which came with some good results? Did the fitness carry back to the states?
Portugal was a big boost to the confidence, but when I got back to North America, I came down with a bad case of bronchitis and had to miss a week of training. I spent much of the last week wondering whether I was going to be on good form after getting sick, but since the start of the race I have been feeling strong.
Describe the strategy you employed for today’s race to capture the yellow jersey.
We were in a good position going into the day. Very close on general classification, with Phil just a few seconds back, but not wearing the yellow jersey. We planned to let the Silber team defend for most of the day, and then set up Phil and Mike on the final climb. Our objective was to make the climb as hard as possible from the very bottom and then let Mike take over once it got steep. Silber rode incredibly strong today and so our guys were pretty fresh at the base of the final climb. They just nuked it from the very bottom and shattered the group. It was an amazing effort by every single one of the athletes on the roster, which is always fun to see and helps prove that cycling really is a team sport. There weren’t many guys left by the time Woods hit the front. It’s always great when you come up with a plan and it works perfectly. It was a true team effort today to help Phil get the win.
Alex Chiu provides a gallery of images from the successful day of racing in Southern California.