What's Cool In Road Cycling

Cascade Classic: Stages 3-6

– Reported by ray Cipollini For Team Navigators –

The National Racing Calendar (NRC) Cascade Classic continued this weekend and became a true battle amongst the teams. Held in scenic Bend, Oregon,
the race is well known for its difficult and challenging courses.

Stage 3
The Pilot Butte TT is just over 1 mile to the top of Bend’s natural landmark. A true hill climb TT, it has a tremendous impact on the General Classification, in spite of the short distance. Prime Alliance’s Chris
Horner scorched the course, followed by Mercury’s Tom Danielson, and Chris Wherry. Navigators’ Chris Baldwin was 4th. Wherry remained in the lead,
gaining 18 seconds on 2nd place Burke Swindlehurst (Navigators), with Prime’s Danny Pate in third @ 21seconds.

Stage 4
Friday’s second stage was the Cascade Classic’s showpiece Criterium in downtown Bend. The twilight event is always a crowd pleaser, and this year’s edition did not disappoint. 60 minutes plus 5 laps on the six turn course guaranteed a fast and furious battle to shake up GC. With record crowds lining the course, sometimes 5 deep, the action started from the
gun. A steady stream of attacks strung the field in single file, with riders coming off the back on the first lap. A steady barrage of attacks and counterattacks by the Navigators and Prime Alliance teams, quickly
forced Wherry’s Mercury team to the front. The blazing pace had split the field in to several parts, with Mercury’s Danielson in one of the back groups, but the team could not wait for fear of losing control. With his
team in place at the front, Wherry held the gate, ready for any assault from his chief rivals, and the Mercury train was forced to maintain a painfully high pace. The field rapidly dwindled as lapped riders were pulled from the course, and the day’s only serious challenge to an
inevitable field sprint came with about 15 laps remaining when a four man break including Navigators’ Kirk OBee and 7-UP’s John Lieswyn escaped.

Mercury pulled the group back with about4 laps to go and ramped up the leadout. A steady acceleration to the line kept the challenges at bay, and Henk Vogels took the victory in front of Fraser and Prime’s Alex Candelario. The top GC remained the same with the only serious casualty being Danielson who was pulled 15 minutes into the stage, and given a pro rated time.

Stage 5
Saturday’s 5th stage of the Cascade Cycling Classic is traditionally the defining stage of the 5-day event. 11 laps of a 7-mile circuit in Tumulo Canyon include over 5000 ft of climbing. On the second lap, a serious
threat to Wherry’s lead formed including two top ten GC riders. Mike Creed of Prime Alliance (@2:00 min) and Saturn’s Tim Johnson (@2:20) were joined by John Lieswyn and three others. Wherry’s Mercury team again took the front and set tempo, allowing the leaders just over two minutes advantage (making Creed the virtual leader). At the half waypoint, Mercury took the pace up and the lead began coming down. At just under 40 seconds, Prime Alliance’s Svien Tuft jumped across, and sparked new life into the lead group. Mercury held the advantage to just over 1 minute. With four laps to
go, the serious action began. Over the next 25 miles, Navigators and Prime Alliance fired a steady volley of attacks, hoping to break the Mercury control, and set up Swindlehurst or Pate for an assault on Wherry. But the
Mercury train held their ground, and maintained their control of the main group. By the final lap, only Creed, Johnson, and Lieswyn remained away, and their gap was rapidly shrinking. As the peloton charged on in pursuit, the three breakaways, pushed on through the 110*F heat and drove frantically towards the finish. At the line it was Lieswyn for the victory as the three stayed in front by 9 seconds. US Postal’s Tony Cruz edged
Navigators Ryan Guay in the field sprint for 4th. GC remained unchanged, and Creed locked up his control of the KOM.

Stage 6
The Cascade Cycling Classic’s sixth and final stage is a 1-hour plus 5 laps criterium in Bend’s blossoming Old Mill district. With only 21 seconds separating the top three riders, there was still opportunity to unseat
Mercury’s Chris Wherry.As the Mercury team organized at the front, an immediate barrage of attacks put Wherry’s team on their heals from the gun. By the end of the third lap, a group had formed up the road, and as the Mercury boys struggled to gain control, riders continued to jump across. The large group powered away, andwere soon over 1/2 a lap ahead of the Mercury led field. But the group was large, and with sprinter Gord Fraser sitting on in defense of his team leader, the break started to show signs of doubt. A
volley of attacks from the lead bunch set Navigators’ Chris Baldwin and Glen Mitchell free with 7-Up’s Lieswyn, Saturn’s Chris Fisher, and Prime’s John Peters. Baldwin was the top GC rider, 2:20 behind Wherry in 8th place, and the 5-man group quickly came together. As the remainder of the original break went back to the field, the 5 companions now began to re-establish their lead. Mercury was content to maintain their losses keeping tempo on the front, and with Navigators’ Baldwin and Mitchell driving hard, the break was soon over 1 minute clear. As the hour was coming to a close, the break was nearly lapping the field, and Baldwin was the first to jump across. Teammate Kirk O’Bee used his National Criterium Champion form to
motor Baldwin to the front of the group, but before the Navigators team could begin to drive the pace, the balance of the breakaways made contact, and the five were 1 lap up.Mercury continued to control the field until 4 laps to go when Saturn took the front with Fisher in tow. Navigators were set up behind with Baldwin and Mitchell in position. At the finish, Fisher edged Baldwin with Peters in third. Mitchell was 4th and Navigator’s Tom Leaper took the field sprint for 6th. Although the top three GC positions remained unchanged, the result moved Baldwin from 8th to 5th, past Horner, Johnson, and teammate Leaper. The Navigator team finished with Swindlehurst in 2nd on the Overall G.C., Baldwin 5th and Leaper 8th on GC, while finishing second to Prime Alliance on team GC.

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