The U.S. bicycling season begins in earnest today with its first major event, the five-day, five-stage Redlands Classic.
Most of the nation's elite teams, including Chevrolet L.A. Sheriff, Saturn and the U.S. national team, are entered. Malcolm Elliott of England, two-time Redlands defending champion and 1994 U.S. Pro points series winner, will lead Chevrolet L.A. Sheriff with teammate Steve Hegg of Dana Point, the national pro road racing champion.
Jeannie Golay, the 1994 U.S. road racing champion, will defend her Redlands title against Karen Bliss-Livingston, the national criterium champion, and Eve Stevenson, a veteran national team competitor.
California's biggest bicycle race begins at 3 p.m. today with a 2.1-mile prologue on Reservoir Road in Redlands. The first stage--a 60-mile loop course for men, 38.4 miles for women--is scheduled Thursday at Lake Perris. The event ends Sunday with an 85-mile road race beginning and ending on Citrus Avenue in Redlands.
"You see who has actually done their homework over the wintertime," said Chris Carmichael, U.S. national coaching director. "The ones who ride well at Redlands ride well at the Tour DuPont."
Tour DuPont, April 27-May 7, is the country's biggest cycling event.
Among the elite Americans missing from Redlands are those riding for Motorola, which competes mostly in Europe. Its riders, among them Lance Armstrong, already have started the season.