What's Cool In Road Cycling

Cascade Classic – Stage 2

Cascade Classic – Stage 2

– Reported by Ray Cipollini for Team Navigators –

One of the great characteristics of the Cascade Classic is the changing nature of the event. Every year, the organizers seem to strive to create some modification from the previous years, keeping the Nation’s oldest
running stage race fresh and unique. The 2002 edition resurrected a new version of the peak-to-peak stage that has not been featured in over 6 years.

Stage 2 was a relatively short 72 mile stage beginning on the west side of the Pacific Crest and then traveling through the lava fields before journeying over two very serious climbs. The 25 mile switchback ascent of
McKenzie pass, followed by the descent into the resort town of Sisters, and then finishing with the 14 mile climb to Middle Sister, guaranteed that short would NOT be easy. The total climbing for the day, 7000 ft to a
finishing altitude of 6564 ft, and temp near 110*F.

Saturn’s Trent Klasna fired the first threatening shot about 8 miles into the race, and he was quickly joined by Mercury’s Gord Fraser and Mike Sayers, Prime Alliance’s Stephenson, Navigators’ Glen Mitchell and a Sierra Nevada rider. The group built a 2-minute lead as they started the 25-mile climb of McKenzie Pass, and Prime Alliance took the front of the Peloton in pursuit. As the leaders hit the steeper grades of switchbacks in the last 10 km of the climb, Klasna began to slip back, and the break companions stopped rolling through. Mitchell kept the group alive, pushing up the climb as Prime Alliance kept the gap at just over 1 minute. The field was dwindling rapidly, and Prime was driving to catch the leaders before the summit.

About 4km to the day’s only KOM, the remaining breakaways were captured, and as the pitch shallowed, a counterattack by Mercury, popped 13 riders clear. Prime Alliance had Pate and Creed, Navigators with Swindlehurst and Leaper, Saturn’s Kluck and Johnson, joined Mercury’s
Sayers, Sbeih, Wherry, and Moninger. By the time the group had reached the KOM, they had 1’15” and were cruising towards the descent to Sisters. The main field was about 25 riders, and included local Bend favorite Chris Horner. Horner sent his troops to the front in a desperate chase, while Mercury’s Sayers, Sbeih and Wherry drove the front group. The gap was still 1’15” as the leaders left Sisters and began the brutal finishing climb. Sayers was the first to drop, followed by Sbeih as the climb steepened. The climbers were beginning to set their strategies for the final 20 km, but the chase was closing, and the field was thinning dramatically.

The chase was down to ten riders, and as the leaders entered the final 10 km, the attacks began. Horner’s powerful chase was now followed only by Navigators’
Baldwin and Mercury’s Danielson. At the front, Chris Wherry launched a powerful attack, and Swindlehurst, and Pate followed. Pate countered but could not hold the pace and Swindlehurst and Wherry came back, and then passed the World U-23 TT champ. At the line, it was Swindlehurst in front of Wherry, with Pate at 15 seconds. Pate’s teammate. Creed held on for 4th
(43′) followed by Saturn’s Johnson (46′). Horner came across @ 1:18next, followed by Leaper, Moninger, and Baldwin, with Kluck rounding out the top ten.

Wherry will take the leaders jersey into the mornings TT up Pilot Butte, by virtue of his better finish in Wednesday’s stage 1, although he and Swindlehurst share the same time. Creed retained his hold on the KOM.

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