Los Altos, California - Team TIBCO brings its strongest roster ever into the first NRC stage race of the season this weekend, the Redlands Classic, beginning Thursday, March 26.
"We're definitely focused on the overall," said Team TIBCO directeur sportif Jeff Corbett. "It's a wide open race. It's not a pure GC rider's race. Redlands isn't for pure climbers or time trial specialists. Just about any one of our riders could be in contention for the overall. Someone like Lauren (Tamayo) or Kat (Carroll) could get in the right move on Beaumont (Friday) and get in contention."
The team will still look to several riders in particular in pursuit of the overall title, including Carroll, who finished 3rd in the 2008 edition, and rising Canadian star Julie Beveridge, who posted a 9th overall last year.
The team also can look to Kiwi Joanne Kiesanowski, who finished 8th in the 2008 world championship road race, as well as veteran Aussie Emma Rickards, who returns to racing in the U.S. after four years with top-level teams in Europe and a 2nd place finish in the 2008 Geelong World Cup. Powerhouse Amber Rais gives the team yet another weapon for the overall and stage wins. For the downtown Redlands criterium, Tamayo is the top candidate for a sprint finish after posting strong results at the Tour of Qatar and the Amgen Tour of California Women's Criterium.
But Corbett adds that "We're coming out of a really good training camp and everyone is going really well. I've been impressed. We'll see how things go in the opening prologue. That often decides the hierarchy."
Team captain Meredith Miller will be starting her 7th Redlands Classic, so she's familiar with the race's predictable, as well as the unpredictable, aspects.
"The (final stage) Sunset Loop is always epic, but we don't want to wait for it to make the race," she said. "Every day there will be hard racing, and if the gaps are close after the prologue, then we may need to go for time bonuses as well. The road race on Friday is an opportunity to whittle down the field a bit.
"And if a break goes, every TIBCO girl can hold her own right now," Miller continued. "I think it will be very rare that a break goes away with one of our riders and we'll need to pull it back because everyone is going so well."
The Redlands Classic opens Thursday with a 5km climbing prologue. It continues Friday with the 117km Beaumont Circuit Race and follows Saturday with the 60-minute City of Redlands Downtown Criterium. The race concludes Sunday with the hilly 106km Beaver Medical Center Sunset Road Race.
Team TIBCO Roster for the Redlands Classic, March 26-29:
Julie Beveridge, CAN
Rushlee Buchanan, NZL
Katharine Carroll, USA
Joanne Kiesanowski, NZL
Meredith Miller, USA
Amber Rais, USA
Emma Rickards, AUS
Lauren Tamayo, USA
Photo (c) Wil Matthews