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Wrenchin' in the USA: The Chris Davidson diary 2006

Leaving his post from a 'Shimano MTB guy' to a SRAM/RockShox/Avid/TruVativ fella will form the basis of wrencher Chris Davidson's new gig, where he has been contracted to work for Ford Cycling in 2006.

However, some things stay the same. One of those will be his informative diary contributions on Cyclingnews, where you'll often receive the inside scoop on all things tech.

Redlands Bicycle Classic - California, USA, March 24-26, 2006

Time to kick it off

Kelli Emmett warms up
Photo ©: Chris Davidson
(Click for larger image)

Showtime for US domestic racing with the Redlands Classic first stage. Technically it's not a prologue, it's the first stage, but it's only 5km long. The TT course goes uphill almost all the way, with the last 1.5km being very steep.

There was a mix of equipment choices out there, with some people riding TT bikes, while others rode just the road bike. The fastest combo seems to the road bike with clip-ons and light aero wheels. Our girls all opted for the road bike with light wheels. It was good to see the entire field of elite women again; I haven't seen some of these people such as Laura Van Gilder [Lipton], Christine Thorburn [Webcor] and Amber Neben [Buitenpoort] since road world's last year.

We were on site two hours early with trainers and the tent to allow our riders ample time to warm-up. Plenty of sunshine and warmer temps made for a beautiful day. All our girls got off to a smooth start, save Kathy Sherwin. There was some confusion at the start line when a rider in front of her did not show for her time. Kathy ended up being sent out on course from the waiting line rather than mounting the start ramp. It seemed like a minor mix-up until later when we found that she had been time cut from the race by 3 seconds. More on that later.

Mara Abbott
Photo ©: Chris Davidson
(Click for larger image)

All the big names came and went and then made their way down to the parking lot after the TT. After a check for doping control numbers, we packed up and headed out. On the way out of the parking lot, I ran into Amber Neben and asked about her ride. She said that she had gone out too hard and blew on the steep hill, as she had not done any racing yet this year. I came to find out later that she was the stage winner - modest as always.

Back at the hotel we finally got hold of the results and I was dismayed to find that our rider Kathy Sherwin had been time cut with seven other riders after the first stage. The officials had announced that the time cut would be 20% in the race meeting, and as the first stage was not technically a prologue, the time cut would be enforced. The problem with Kathy's start was a point of contention, as she was time cut by only three seconds. An official protest was in order.

It seemed pointless to me to time cut riders after a 5km first stage and exclude them from the rest of the race. Many riders were openly doing this race for training, so such rigid rule enforcement seemed a little inappropriate. Time to track down the chief referee...

More from the criterium in downtown Redlands.

Chris Davidson


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Chris Davidson