38th annual Redlands Bicycle Classic kicks off with women's division making strides in the sport

Leticia Juarez Image
Friday, April 12, 2024
Redlands Bicycle Classic kicks off with women's division
Hundreds of pro cyclists lined up as they prepared to climb uphill on the surface streets of Highland and Redlands.

REDLANDS, Calif. (KABC) -- The 38th Annual Redlands Bicycle Classic kicked off early Wednesday morning with female athletes warming up, hydrating, and inspecting their bicycles.

Then it was on to the starting line with hundreds of pro cyclists crowding in as they prepared for miles of uphill climbs through Highland and Redlands.

This year, the women's cycling division is making the biggest gains in the sport.

"We have the largest women's field we've ever had. We've started over 140 on the start line, which is fantastic. We averaged about 90 in years past," Executive Director of the Redlands Bicycle Classic, Mark Shaw said.

Former cyclists like Catherine Kim kick-started DNA Pro Cycling to help grow and support female pro cyclists.

"I started this team because it was difficult 12 years ago and I really wanted to create opportunities that I didn't have," Kim said.

The sport has taken off in the last decade.

Once upon a time, all-female cycling teams were a rarity in the field. Today, there are 21 teams in the race.

"It's really great to see the growth. I've been in the sport about 12 years now and from when I started to now it's definitely exploded," said cyclist Holly Brick.

Interest also exploded with spectators lining the route to cheer on the cyclists including school children holding signs of encouragement.

The race is the longest continuous running invitational professional stage race in American bike racing for men and women, which also marks the start of the season.

Canadian cyclist Mara Roldan took first prize in the Highland Circuit group sprint for her team.

"Positioning was key the entire race, staying in the front as much as possible but still being cautious, not to spend too much energy," said Roldan with Cynisca Cycling.

The second stage of the five-day racing event continues on Thursday with an all-uphill ride to Onyx Summit.

For more information on the Redlands Bicycle Classic click here.