Redlands Finale: Abbott wins the stage, Laws secures Mountains Jersey, Team wins GC
After a successful week of racing in California, the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Women’s Team concluded the 2014 Redlands Bicycle Classic with style in Sunday’s Sunset Road Race. With a stage profile consisting of 3 climbing competitions and 9 hilly laps amounting to 68.3 tough miles, the team knew they had the roster to make a difference in the outcome.
The moment the flag dropped, the women of the Blue Train moved to the front and increased the pace, leaving other riders and teams in their wake and reducing the field to a few dozen riders. From there, the attacks continued with UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team either chasing or joining, as strategy dictated. On lap 3, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team rider Sharon Laws bridged with FCS Cycling’s Amber Neben to join a solo attack by Specialized-Lululemon rider Ally Stacher. The capable group of three posed a real threat to the chasing peloton, requiring them to spend precious energy closing down the gap.
This effort set the stage for Mara Abbott’s stage-winning breakaway with Specialized-Lululemon rider, Tayler Wiles. The pair put their heads down and never looked back, gaining an advantage of 1:45 at one point. At the finish line, Mara Abbott proved strongest on the day, securing the stage victory and moving her in to 2nd place in the overall classification. Sharon Laws’ hard work in the hills throughout the week earned her the climber’s classification jersey, while the combined consistency and impressive results by the entire squad earned the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team the win in the team’s overall classification.
“We went into stage 5 with a ‘go big or go home’ attitude! We were in the race right from the start and the girls rode a hard and smart all day,” Sports Director Rachel Heal commented, “Whilst we weren’t quite able to secure the overall race win, taking the stage win and securing team GC as well as the mountains jersey is a testament to how quickly the team has come together and is fulfilling the high expectations for the women’s UnitedHealthcare Blue Train.”
Stage winner Mara Abbott added, “I’m really excited about the way the team came together for our first U.S. race of the year. The final stage of Redlands is always hard and this year was no exception. The team worked so well together and there was staff all over the entire course supporting us. I’m so happy to be a part of it and thrilled we could represent so much effort with a win.”
This week was a fantastic show of depth for the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, as they contested Redlands on the West Coast with great success, while another squad of riders challenged the Sunny King Criterium in Alabama on Saturday. The UnitedHealthcare Blue Train brought home dual victories thanks to the sprinting abilities of returning 2013 race-winners Carlos Alzate and Coryn Rivera.