HIGHLAND, CA (CT) — Three young riders stood atop a wet podium at the Redlands Classic Friday, after a 7-mile time trial ushered in a new generation of names to watch in the years to come.
American Nielson Powless (Axeon-Hagens Berman) took the stage win, covering the out-and-back TT in a time of 15:11.
Canadians Matteo Dal-Cin and Nigel Ellsay, both of Silber Pro Cycling, rounded out the podium, both at 15:19, separated by fractions of a second.
Dal-Cin was the eldest of the three riders, at 25; Powless was the youngest, at 20.
Kyle Murphy (Jamis-Sutter Home) finished fourth, just off the podium, at 15:20.
Pre-race favorite Tom Zirbel (Rally Cycling) finished with a time of 15:40.
Powless, who hails from Roseville, California, has a mountain-bike background, with top-10 finishes in the junior ranks at World Cups and the 2014 world championships.
Last week, Powless finished third overall at the San Dimas Stage Race. On Thursday, he finished fifth on the climb to Oak Glen Village. And on Friday, he finished first.
“This is the first year I’ve really gotten to spend some time on my TT bike,” Powless said. “I think it’s definitely paid off. I’ve been a mountain biker, up until last year, so it took me a little while to get used to the time-trial bike. It took me a little while to get used to the road bike, and then the time-trial bike is a whole other animal. I felt quite a bit better this year, than I did last year, on the TT bike. The numbers have been good, I just had to get used to riding it.”
Dal-Cin’s time was seven seconds faster than that of race leader Janier Acevedo (Jamis-Sutter Home), bringing the Silber rider to within one second of the Colombian climber with two stages remaining — the Redlands Criterium, on Saturday, and the Sunset Loop road race on Sunday.
Aussie Lachlan Morton (Jelly Belly-Maxxis) sits third overall, 13 seconds behind Acevedo.
“I’ve had some good TTs in the past, at Canadian nationals, and I spent the winter focusing on my climbing,” said Dal-Cin, who hails from Ottawa. “I had an alright ride yesterday, and was looking forward to today.”
Dal-Cin has raced Redlands once before, last year, and is aware how just how aggressive the Sunset Loop stage can be — especially with one second separating the two GC leaders. There will be bonus sprints on offer both Saturday and Sunday; the criterium stage has an intermediate sprint with three, two, and one second up for grabs, and both stages have time on the line at the finish, with 10, six, and four seconds available to the first three riders across.
“Steal a time bonus, try to get the jersey,” he said. “I can’t say I’m a sprinter, but I’ll give it my best shot.”