— DOWNTOWN REDLANDS, Calif. —
There’s probably no better way to describe the Stage 4 Downtown Redlands Criterium than utterly chaotic. Without larger-name teams fielding full squads to maintain a consistently high pace throughout the mile-long course with 9 turns, the only sections in which the field was strung out was the straightaway section. Because of the V-turn immediately following the finish line, all riders, even those at the front, are required to slow down a considerable amount before they can properly flow through the turn.
The team would miss the day’s breakaway of 11 riders, which would make it all the way to the line with about a 1-minute gap to the field.
Hagens Berman Axeon, who still held the leader’s jersey, would once again take up pacemaking duties to keep the break in check, but with no riders of serious GC threats up the road, there was never a great incentive for them to fully bring it back. Bridge moves flew off the front when the break still had only a 15-second gap, but they were quickly reeled in.
A lot of crashing would ensue as riders became antsy to maintain position and/or move up so they could try a last-ditch effort to bridge up to the break. The race would be neutralized twice as riders crashed within and had to ushered out of the last turn of the course, in which subtle rifts in the pavement proved treacherous and unnoticeable at high speeds until you were already riding over them.
The break and the peloton would be stopped in their tracks as the course was cleared. The officials then let the break go before the peloton, allowing them the gap that they were at prior to the neutralization before they released the peloton to chase after them.
Ryan Jastrab was forced to pull out of the race, having missed time cut after his crash the day before, so the remaining six riders would ride the rest of the race out as safely as they could so they could leave it all out on the course on the final stage the next day.