Highland, California – Phil O'Donnell, in 22nd place, was the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team's best finisher Wednesday on the opening stage of the Redlands Bicycle Classic.
O'Donnell finished in a small group 27 seconds after Ruben Companioni (Team Jamis) soloed to win the 93.5-kilometer circuit race around the city of Highland, California. Companioni's teammate, Lucas Haedo, was runner-up, 14 seconds later. Travis McCabe (Holowesko | Citadel Racing Team presented by Hincapie Sportswear) finished third, one second after Haedo.
Axeon Hagens Berman Sport Director Jeff Louder said the heat played a factor in the peloton's chase of a four-man breakaway from which Companioni emerged.
"It was a really hot day and the climb was especially hard because of the heat," Louder said. "The peloton may have been a little lackadaisical or maybe felt the breakaway was not going to be able to make it. So some of the chasing teams awaited a little too long."
Besides O'Donnell, three other Axeon Hagens Berman riders also finished within a minute of the winner. Geoffrey Curran (33rd) and Justin Oien (40th) were 34 seconds back while Neilson Powless (52nd) was 47 seconds back.
Thursday's stage is a 90-mile road race featuring six laps, culminating with a finish climb atop Oak Glen.