Oakland, CA - Floyd Landis and two-time defending NRC points champion Rory Sutherland will lead the OUCH Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis into the 2009 NRC opening Redlands Classic, beginning Thursday, March 26.
"The team has had great preparation for this race," noted team directeur sportif Mike Tamayo. "The guys really came together and raced hard at California, and that showed with our results in Mexico."
Last year's Redlands Classic saw NRC champion Sutherland fly to a win in the opening prologue and take a hard-earned 3rd place in the final road stage en route to 4th overall. While Sutherland will still be a marked man, other teams will have to contest with the presence of Landis as well.
"Having serious cards like Landis and Sutherland to play will make things that much more difficult for other teams," Tamayo said. "It takes the pressure off of Rory because everyone was watching him last year."
So will the presence of the teams two Canadians, rising stage race star Cameron Evans and sprinter Andrew Pinfold. Both riders enter Redlands on good form after each took a stage win at the Vuelta Mexico earlier this month, and Pinfold rode his way onto the podium in two other stages. Their ability to win out of breaks, as demonstrated in Mexico, adds another element of danger to the team. Joining them on break patrol will be the ever-aggressive Bradley White.
"Simply put, we have a lot more horsepower this year," Tamayo said.
Sutherland and Landis will have the ample support for the two hilly road stages, led as always by team captain and super-domestique Tim Johnson, as well hard-working Roman Kilun. This year, they have the added horsepower of veteran Patrick McCarty.
Though this is the beginning of the battle for another NRC team title, Tamayo emphasized again that NRC points aren't the goal. "We always go out to win races," he said. "It wouldn't be the style of this team if we didn't try to maximize the weekend with stage wins as well as going for the overall title. If we win races, the point will come. And as with every race, we'll use Redlands to work on tactics and keep getting better."
The Redlands Classic opens Thursday with a 5 km climbing prologue. It continues Friday with the 156 km Beaumont Circuit Race and follows Saturday with the 90-minute City of Redlands Downtown Criterium. The race concludes Sunday with the hilly 146.5 km Beaver Medical Center Sunset Road Race.
OUCH Presented by Maxxis for the Redlands Classic:
Cam Evans, CAN
Tim Johnson, USA
Roman Kilun, USA
Floyd Landis, USA
Karl Menzies, TAS
Andrew Pinfold, CAN
Rory Sutherland, AUS
Brad White, USA