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Conor White faces tough test in Redlands Classic

Conor White tastes major competition for first time this year

Bermuda’s 2023 Male Athlete of Year faces his biggest test of 2024 so far in California this week.

Conor White will be taking on the challenge of the Redlands Classic, a five-stage race which covers more than 250 miles and starts on Wednesday with the City of Highland Circuit Race for Men (20 laps, 56 miles).

The cyclist has been preparing hard for this assignment, including when competing in a couple of smaller races last weekend, but does not expect to be in contention for the General Classification with the tour not designed to bring out the best in him.

“The training has been good and I did a couple of races last weekend and the legs felt good, so we should be geared up to go well,” White said.

“You never really know until you’re in the race but based on how I’m riding I’m pretty ready for it.

“This is my third time at the Redlands Classic and some of the courses are a little bit different this year. I’m definitely not the team leader for this week so I will be in more of a support role. I’ll probably be able to go for the time-trial but for the other four stages I will be working for our team leader but I’m still ready to go.”

The second stage of the event features a punishing ascent to the summit of Onyx Peak, which is situated in the San Bernardino Mountains and is the highest mountain pass in Southern California, and White’s physique will prevent him for competing with the best climbe

“Stage two is an 81-kilometre stage but there is 2,500 metres of climbing straight up the mountain,” White said

“Being a bigger guy that’s not suited to me, so that is the GC out the window for me, but we have a couple of really strong guys on the team and we have the potential to win every single stage, so I’ll be working for the team for most of the stages.”

The Bermudian will be given his head in stage three, the Lake Perris Time-Trial, but is anticipating that to be more competitive than the Pan American Games Time-Trial, in which he won a bronze medal in Chile last year.

“I honestly think the level of the competition here will be higher than it was at the Pan American Games,” White said.

It was a strong field at the Pan Ams but there were only 15 guys. Here there will be 115 of the best cyclists in the US, and also from overseas, and a lot of these guys are really good time-trialists, so I actually think it will be harder to get a good result here based on the amount of riders competing and the quality of the field.

The goal is the top ten as it’s a really technical course and it’s not just a straight 20-minute all-out effort. Some of it is on a bike path around a lake and there are lots of corners, so a lot of bike-handling skill will come in to how well you do, so that will play into my favour, but we’ll see on the day.“

A quick look at White’s Instagram page suggests he is having the time of his life with panoramic shots of glamorous places around the world but he is keen to point out the sacrifices he is making in the pursuit of a professional career in cycling

“It is fun and I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t having fun but it is definitely taxing on the body, travelling between different time zones, always sleeping in a different bed and trying to get training in between all the travel while packing and unpacking your bike,” White said.

“Just this month alone I’m going to be in four different time zones and on nine flights. You get used to it a little bit but it’s still tough. It’s still fun and you get to ride your bike in different cities in the US, but being on the Bermuda national team means I get to ride all over the world as well. It’s tough but worth it.”

It is a busy time of year in international cycling and Whiite will be on his travels to represent Bermuda in the coming months.

“After Redlands it’s then back home before heading to the Carolinas to do a couple of Criterium races,” White said.

“Then I’ll have a three-week block to focus on training because then I’ll be doing the Pan American Continental Championships with Bermuda at the end of May. That will be in Brazil and after that I will be back into the US to do more races with the team before the Nationals in June.

Brazil will be the sixteenth or seventeenth country I have raced my bike in so that’s pretty cool. It’s not a bad way to travel the world.“

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Published April 10, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated April 09, 2024 at 12:36 pm)

Conor White faces tough test in Redlands Classic

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