Redlands Classic, Stage 4: Crash Near The Finish

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By Sean Weide
10 Apr 16

Redlands, California – Three Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team riders were involved in a pile-up on the final turn of the last lap of Saturday's downtown criterium at the Redlands Bicycle Classic. All escaped serious injury while the other three Axeon riders who were in the top 12 overall each retained their same positions in the standings with a day of the race to go.

Justin Oien was in fifth position coming out of the sweeping right-hand turn when a rider in front of him clipped a pedal on the pavement and lost control. Oien and teammates Jonny Brown and Chad Young went down, along with a dozen others.

"Justin was really well placed for a top result and just had some bad luck there," Axeon Hagens Berman Sport Director Jeff Louder said.

Oien, who won one of the six intermediate sprints during the 90-minute race, said when the rider immediately in front of him hit the brakes, he had to jam on his as well.

"I started to slide and just kind of went right into the guys in front of me," he said. "I was feeling really good right up to that. We were up there the entire day and saving as much energy as we could up front."

Just minutes before that incident, Young and Brown escaped injury in a crash with eight laps to go. All of those involved in the last lap crash on the 1.6 km course received the same finish time as stage winner Ulises Castillo (KHS-Maxxis).

Three Remain In Top 12

Axeon's best-placed rider overall is Neilson Powless, who enters the final day 29 seconds back of race leader Janier Acevedo (Team Jamis). Teammate Geoffrey Curran is seventh, at 50 seconds, and Phil O'Donnell is 11th, 62 seconds back.

Louder said Sunday's 151.4 km Sunset Loop Road Race is 12 laps of a hard course and opportunity to keep moving riders up the standings.

"I think Sunset Loop really suits the talents of the guys," he said. "We went out and rode it this morning just to get acquainted with it. The team did not have a lot of experience in this race, so it was good to go out and take a look at it. They all liked it. I think they will have a good day. We are definitely in a good place."

Curran Off The Front

Beneath skies that threatened rain the entire race, the only substantial breakaway to get any breathing room came when Curran slipped the field at the 57-minute mark. A five-man chase group that included Powless as a passenger nearly bridged the gap. But it was swallowed up by the chasing field. Curran – the fifth-place finisher in Friday's individual time trial – enjoyed a maximum lead of seven seconds before his escape was shut down with about 25 minutes to go.

"It was good to see Geoffrey being aggressive," Louder said. "The guys were right up there. He saw his opportunity and took it. It looked good, but it just wasn't a day for a breakaway."

In the team standings, Axeon Hagens Berman held onto its 13-second lead over Holowesko-Citadel presented by Hincapie Sportswear and 16 seconds over Silber Pro Cycling.

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