San Dimas, California – Michael Rice notched his second straight top 10 finish Saturday at the San Dimas Stage Race and moved into seventh overall with a day to go in the USA Cycling American Road Calendar event.
Rice was sixth and teammate Rui Oliveira was seventh in the San Dimas Community Hospital Road Race, as the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team placed two riders in the top 10 on consecutive days.
Robin Carpenter (Holowesko Citadel presented by Hincapie) won the 84-mile race in a bunch sprint ahead of Cory Williams (Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling) and Joshua Berry (Jelly Belly presented by Maxxis).
"We had a plan to be aggressive on the climb today, and everyone played their role to execute the race plan," Rice said. "Into the final, it was down to a reduced field sprint and I found myself well positioned into the home stretch."
The 21-year-old Australian sits 51 seconds off the lead of Kyle Murphy (Cylance Pro Cycling) ahead of Sunday's criterium. He was eighth in Friday afternoon's 4.25-mile individual time trial.
Axeon Hagens Berman's best finisher in the time trial, Christopher Blevins, is ninth overall, 69 seconds behind Murphy. The reigning junior national mountain bike champion finished 37th Saturday, 22 seconds back of the stage winner.
Oliveira said was aiming to lead out Rice for the sprint. But after 12 laps of a seven-mile loop that circled Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park, a strong crosswind on the flat straightaway to the finish made that easier said than done.
"So much wind was coming from the right in the last kilometer that everyone was trying to hide the best they could to launch their sprint at the right time," the 20-year-old rider from Portugal said. "I tried to be around Michael and lead him out, but there was so much confusion that we couldn't be near each other. It was still a positive result, but I know we can do better."
Rice said he is looking forward to giving it another go in Sunday's 85-minute, six-corner criterium in Downtown San Dimas. Race time is 3:05 p.m. PDT.
"We have a strong outfit to really attack the race and finish off the weekend with a big result," he said.
Header file photo of Michael Rice by Davey Wilson.