Clara Hughes (BC Bike) leads the 32nd annual Cascade Cycling Classic. Hughes, the current Canadian national time trial champion, finished the Skyliners Chrono 20 seconds ahead of Kristin Armstrong (Peanut Butter & Co 2012). Her narrow victory margin left Hughes in the overall race lead by 13 seconds over Erinne Willock of Team TIBCO/To The Top and 20 seconds over Armstrong. The stage was set for a three way battle to see who would claim the leaders jersey following the 114 km Cascade Lakes Road Race.
The Queen Stage of the Cascade Classic the 114km Cascade Lakes Road Race circumnavigated Mt Bachelor, and Crane Prairie Reservoir. Total elevation gain amounted to 850 meters. The final climb of Sparks grade gained 500 meters in 32 km with final steep ramp leading into the Mt Bachelor ski area.
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Team TIBCO/To The Top went in to stage 3 with the goal of a stage win and the race overall. So apparently did Colavita/Forno d'Asolo. After nearly half the race which saw repeated attacks by numerous riders, Leah Kirchmann (Colavita) set the bar with an attack that stuck. Alison Starnes (PB&Co 2012) and Jade Wilcoxen (Now and Novartis for MS) bridged on to her move and the break was 4. In the series of counter moves that took place Alison Shanks (BikeNZ), Emily Collins (Vanderkitten/Focus), TIBCO's Tara Whitten, Megan Guarnier, Joelle Neumainville and 2 Colavita riders including Rushlee Buchanan were able to move into the final break with a small handful of others.
The break of 11, loaded with 3 Colavita riders, 3 TIBCO riders, built a lead of 1:15. This was enough for Buchanan to be the leader on the road. Collins of Vanderkitten, the current U-23 champion of New Zealand said. "The aim today was to be in the breakaways and put pressure on the (other) teams. Tibco and Colavita were so strong in the break and I could not climb with them. But it was a great day out".
The final climb to Mt Bachelor saw Buchanan gamble for the overall, going solo across the line ahead of Shanks and Whitten. Hughes finished with Kristin Armstrong in a group of 14 riders 1:09 down and was able to hold her overall race lead. Riding here with a small provincial team, Hughes was able to benefit from the pace making done by PB&Co 2012 as they sought to hold the gap to the break down to minimize the chances of Buchanan gaining the overall ahead of Armstrong. Finishing in 12th on the day in that group was Vanderkitten Pascal Schnider. Schnider is the current owner of both Swiss National Champions jerseys. Schnider had this to say, "My legs felt better today than in yesterdays time trial. I really enjoyed the scenery and wanted to stop but knew it was important to stay focused and try some moves. In the end I was happy with my climbing and the position" Schnider is the best place Kitten in 12th overall at 2:12 back.
In the Grinta Classification, Vanderkitten likely holds an advantage as well. As miss-timed pedal stroke took down Jazzy Hurikino in the final feed zone with 40kms to go. Dusting herself off she discovered she was missing half a pedal. Her version of the story, "DS Jono told me I would have to finish the stage in tennis shoes if that was all I had. It wasn't too bad actually, I rode tempo till the final climb and then the Webcor mechanic gaffa taped my shoe to the remaining part of the pedal. Thank sweet baby jesus that would have been hard otherwise...." In the general classification, Hughes leads the overall by 13 seconds over Erinne Willock (TIBCO) followed by Kristin McGrath and Armstrong (PB&Co 2012) and Tara Whitten (TIBCO) holds fourth overall. 28 seconds separate number one from number four, leaving all sorts of potential for the lead to change in the final two stages. Buchanan wears the white jersey of best young rider, Neumainville is the current points leader and Andrea Dvorak (Colavita) retains the mountain jersey.
Filed for Podium Cafe: Christopher See July 23 2011 Bend Oregon all photos Copyright