Redlands was my first race with 303 Project.

I was eager to join up with my new team in California and meet the guys. I’ve heard great things about the race so was keen to get the season going.

We stayed in the beautiful home of Zach and Andi. I arrived a couple of days before the race to see some of the parcour and get to know the team. I instantly fell in love with California and loved the riding around there. I was surprised by how quickly I integrated the new team as well and instantly felt at home. Great group of guys from the riders to the staff.

 

Racing kicked off with a 6 km ITT.

I was excited to blow out the cobwebs and give it a good crack. I had to settle for 6th on the stage. It felt great to pin a number again.

 

Stage 2 was a lung burning circuit race in Highlands.

This was my first experience of this sort of racing in the US. It’s fast and full-gas from start to finish being only 2-ish hours in length. It all stayed together and finished in a bunch sprint.

 

Stage 3 finished on top of Oak Glen.

I knew the climb after having ridden it a couple of times during training leading up to the race. The team looked after me all day and did an incredible job. We were in control of the situation with two guys up in the break, Austin and Tony, with the rest of us not having to do anything behind. Once we hit Oak Glen the group quickly whittled down. I was still hanging on when we were only around 10 guys left, but eventually blew when they started attacking close to the finish. I dropped down to 13th on GC which was quite disappointing after having high expectations.

 

Stage 4 was a 90’ crit in downtown.

This turned out to be one of the most fun days I’ve had on a bike in a long time. Ripping it through the corners full speed on a mile long circuit. Loved it. Eric did amazing to slip into the break which stayed away and finish 6th.

 

The final day,  Stage 5 was on the Sunset Circuit.

Lumpy and technical. This is where the race can be won or lost. It was an epic day on the bike. I tried to bridge across to the front 2 riders with 4 laps to go, but never bridged. Better try than regret. This was really a super fun course to race on. I finished in the select main group and kept that 13th place on GC.

 

All in all it was a great week of racing. I loved getting to know the team and giving some input where I can with the experience I’ve gained. We raced as a unit and although we didn’t get that top result we wanted, we showed positive signs for the coming races.

 

By Johann van Zyl