The start of the 2019 edition of the Redlands Bicycle Classic bore a crestfallen tone among riders and fans following the tragic death of 19-year-old Tate Meintjes the day before the start, and the deeply saddening recent suicide of 23-year-old Kelly Catlin.
During his pre-ride of the time trial course last Tuesday morning, Tate collided with a car while descending. We all raced in honour of Tate. His father gave a strong and positive speech before the start of the second stage, during which he reminded us of Tate’s absolute love for the sport and that we should all #ridefortate.
These two remain in our thoughts as we now prepare for our next races.
With consistent rain and snow in the weeks leading up to the race, we were very fortunate to have a window of perfect weather for the five-stage race. Snow wouldn’t cancel the time trial this year, which allowed time gaps to be established and some slightly less intense road stages to follow (compared to last year). But without the Holowesko or Rally-UHC squads, and a smaller Hagens Berman Axeon team, the opportunity for some unlikely winners in the men’s race were apparent.
The women’s race saw two-time time trial world champ Amber Neben, who guest rode for Trek Red Truck, claim yellow in the first stage and defend it to the end. Tibco-SVB rounded out the overall podium with Lauren Stephens and Emily Newsom in second and third respectively.
The men’s race was slightly less consistent. Axeon took yellow after the time trial and their riders shared the jersey for all five stages. After losing riders throughout the week, however, their work was cut out to defend the lead and they lost it on the final stage during the infamous Sunset Road Race.
An unbelievable Sunset stage saw seventeen-year-old Quinn Simmons win the stage in the pro men’s race as a junior. I haven’t been able to confirm but very few, if any, juniors have won stages at Redlands before. He broke away with Semper Porro’s Cory Lockwood following a crash that took out two Hagens Berman riders to solidify his the points jersey, snag the climber’s jersey, and work with Lockwood to earn Lockwood the overall race win while Simmons also took the stage.
Canadian Alexander Cowan of Floyd’s Pro Cycling managed to take third on the Highland and Sunset stages and fifth overall. While Jordan Cheyne of Elevate-KHS came close in the GC after finishing fourth in the TT and on Oak Glen, and fourth overall.
The Canadian women did not disappoint either, with Simone Boilard of Sho-Air Twenty20 taking fourth in the TT and sixth overall, Helena Coney of Instafund LaPrima taking third in the crit, and Sara Poidevin of Rally-UHC taking second in the final stage and finishing eighth overall.
As for my Redlands, well, let’s just say I’m not as fast as those other Canadians. I did, however, do pretty well on the local Saturday morning group ride after I wasn’t able to finish Friday’s stage.
Oliver Evans 20-year-old cyclist from Winnipeg, currently living in Victoria. In 2019, he will race with Trek Red Truck Racing.