After battling it out with her breakaway companions, Katherine Carroll, from Aaron's sprinted to a big win in Stage One. Former Canadian national champion, Alex Wrubleski, from Webcor Builders followed with second; and Leigh Hobson, from Cheerwine grabbed third. Mara Abbott, from High Road, just a few seconds behind in a group that bridged to the breakaway kept the yellow jersey, coming off of her win at Thursday's Prologue race.

Stage 1 Women's Finish

The pro women cyclists lined up to complete 4 laps of 17.5 miles in the 2008 Redlands Bicycle Classic Stage One Circuit race in Beaumont, Calif.
This year's course required a different strategy from the former Oak Glen Stage One race. The 17.5 mile course took the riders through Beaumont's rolling hills, bordered by open fields. Bogart Park provided a grueling hill that threw some of the hardest obstacles. After the steep climb, the wind to be difficult for the riders.

Some found the challenging course inviting. "I thought the course was fantastic," said Hobson. "It was definitely a challenge with the climb, but it wasn't as selective as a mountain top finish. Teams could race more aggressively."

"It was really exciting today," commented Aaron's DS, Carmen D'Aluisio. "I was surprised on the first lap when it got as broken up as it did on the first climb. I can't be happier with the way my girls raced. I had my whole team up on that selection….every time over that climb. Meredith Miller rode an amazing race today." Meredith Millar initiated a break of six riders that went off the front of the peloton on the first lap. "We did what we wanted to do today, which was to put High Road in a position to have to put out some effort," coninued D'Aluisio. "We thought we might get some help from Webcor and Cheerwine. We were committed to this strategy 100%. It was beautiful."

"The team raced really well," stated stage winner Carroll. "We were super aggressive. Meredith (Miller) started the first break for two laps and she was able to keep attacking. We knew we had to put pressure on High Road. Going into lap 4 we kept the pressure on and had Meredith attack. We knew we had to isolate Mara (Abbott) and Kim (Anderson). The plan was definitely to race our bikes hard and put pressure on them. It really is in everyone's best interest to isolate High Road. I felt that this could be a good finish for us….that if it did all come together…we were going for the win."

Miller Leads Break

"I think today was a really good race. It was actually a hard race," said Webcor's Wrubleski. "It was harder than some NRC races end up being. I think we did what we could. I don't think there is much more we could have done…well, except for not missing the first KOM. Our whole team rode well. Obviously the main target this race is High Road. We tried to not let them get away. Mara is a climber and we needed to watch her. This is the first major race for us. The first couple of laps were pretty hard for us….but by the last two climbs we were feeling much better. I think High Road was satisfied to sit back. It will definitely be a different race when it comes to the Sunset Rd stage (on Sunday) because that climb can shatter the field."

"Today was really challenging," commented GC leader Abbott. "The race was a lot harder than most of the riders thought it would be. No one really knew if it was going to be a bunch finish. It was pretty clear from the first lap that it was not going to be a bunch finish. I think that speaks to the quality of the riders here. People were riding aggressively and people were riding hard. I think sometimes people can get into negative racing and simply ride around the course and no one was doing that today. It was the responsibility of the other teams to come after us. The goal is to get the leader's jersey. I have it and their goal is to take it.

"Just wanted to add thanks to the all of the employees of Aaron's Corporate Furnishings. There are hundreds of employees that follow the women cycling team…that cheer for us…and keep in touch with us. The team is inspired by them…every time we race. It's their support that keeps us going," said Aaron's Kristen Sanders.

Stage 1 Women Podium

Results- Stage 1:

1 Katharine Carroll (Aaron's) 3.04.38
2 Alex Wrubleski (Webcor Builders)
3 Leigh Hobson (Cheerwine)
4 Tiffany Cromwell (Colavita/Sutter/Cooking Light)
5 Anne Samplonius (Cheerwine)
6 Kim Anderson (Team High Road)
7 Kristin Sanders (Aaron's) 0.04
8 Mara Abbott (Team High Road)
9 Leah Goldstein (Value Act Capital)
10 Julie Beveridge (Aaron's)

General classification after stage 1

1 Mara Abbott (Team High Road) 3.15.49
2 Katharine Carroll (Aaron's) 0.14
3 Alex Wrubleski (Webcor Builders) 0.19
4 Kim Anderson (Team High Road) 0.23
5 Leigh Hobson (Cheerwine) 0.25
6 Christine Thorburn (Webcor Builders) 0.31
7 Tiffany Cromwell (Colavita/Sutter/Cooking Light) 0.39
8 Anne Samplonius (Cheerwine) 0.40
9 Julie Beveridge (Aaron's) 0.55
10 Kristin Sanders (Aaron's) 1.08

All photos copyright Stephanie Gutowski