After a few early-season races in Northern California, Team TIBCO/To the Top heads south to kick the 2011 race season into a higher gear. This Friday, the team will take a 7-rider roster to the San Dimas Stage Race, a three-stage event that offers competitors a little bit of everything.
San Dimas is the perfect test ahead of the Redlands Classic, said Team Manager/Directeur Sportif Lisa Hunt.
San Dimas opens with a 3.7-mile uphill time trial that should favor Team TIBCO riders like Erinne Willock and Carmen Small. Willock won the San Dimas Stage Race in 2005.
Because of the short distance, the time gaps are usually fairly small at the top of the standings, Hunt said.
That makes the Stage 2 San Dimas Hospital Road Race particularly decisive. The stage is run over a tough 7-mile circuit around Frank Bonelli Park, with pitches reaching 13% over the Cannon Road climb.
The climb is challenging, particularly when there are QOM sprints every other lap. The pack tends to get strung out over the climb and with the right combination of riders, a break can get away. Last year, a break got up the road early in the race and stayed away, Hunt said. Weve got a strong squad that could win out of a breakaway or a field sprint.
What usually doesnt happen is a final-stage crit settling things, but last year saw another break get a way on the final stage that shuffled the top of the leader board. If you get the right mix of strong riders with the major teams represented, a break can stick on the final day, Hunt added. But if the race sticks together for a bunch kick, Team TIBCO will have U23 National Criterium Champion Samantha Schneider there for the sprint.
But mainly, Hunt sees San Dimas as a strong warm-up for the four-stage Redlands Classic the following weekend, which kicks off the NRC series. The courses offer similar challenges, with the addition of a closing circuit race at Redlands, she said.
Our girls have been doing some racing at the local level, but I know theyre all ready to stretch their legs a bit and get back to racing with their teammates, Hunt added. And we should start to get a pretty good idea of how things are going to shake out domestically in the next couple weeks.
For more information on the San Dimas Stage Race, visit www.scvelo.com/san-dimas-stage-race.
Team TIBCO/To the Top for the San Dimas Stage Race
Samantha Schneider, USA
Carmen Small, USA
Carlee Taylor, AUS
Jennifer Wheeler, USA
Erinne Willock, CAN
Tara McCormick, USA
Alexis Ryan, USA