Stage 1 of the Cascade Cycling Classic proved to be tough and devastating for some. With a 20-mile climb and temperatures hitting 90 degrees toward the end, McKenzie Pass Road Race was a tiring first stage.
"Getting over McKenzie with the lead bunch is an exercise in suffering," said Jessica Cutler (Vanderkitten), who was riding her first road race since coming back from an injury. "I just tried to stay no further back than seventh or eighth wheel and every time it got hard I would reassure myself by looking at my power meter and knowing that it had to get easier because no one can ride that hard for that long."
The defining attack came on the big climb about 30 miles into the race when TIBCO's Claudia Häusler broke away with Exergy's Mara Abbott and Kristin McGrath, taking the stage KOM points.
Abbott, McGrath, Häusler (yellow jersey is NRC series leader not race lead)
Häusler continued to set the pace and managed to also drop the Exergy teammates on her way to a solid finish at Three Creeks sno park.
"As soon as we hit the first climb, the speed in the peloton was high. In the steepest part, about 10km from the bottom, Kristin McGrath and I attacked. Later Mara Abbott bridged across and we were working together to get the biggest time gap possible on Alison Powers," Häusler said, speculating that Powers would be the big favorite for the long TT tomorrow.
"There are more hard stages coming and we will see day by day what we can do. My team is awesome here and of course we want to go for the win," Häusler stated.
Häusler Stage win
Alison Powers (NOW and Novartis) came in 4'32" down from Häusler and had to pass the yellow jersey up to McGrath, who now leads the GC with just 4" on Häusler.
Today went "badly", Powers commented. "I was isolated pretty early on the first climb and had to do a lot of work alone. Thankfully, teammate Katie Donavon was able to begin helping me and she and I worked together to try to minimize the losses. On the final climb, once the gap was at 3 minutes, I stopped chasing."
Powers, Dvorak, Oliviera, Glaesser
TIBCO now leads the team GC and TIBCO's Jasmin Glaesser continues to lead the young rider GC.
Glaesser in second group coming through the feed zone
The race continues tomorrow near Redmond, Ore. with, a 16-mile out-and-back TT with four short climbs. Time trial specialist will be looking to make up some precious time or take a stage win.
Among them will be Vanderkitten's Rhae Shaw and Jessica Cutler.
"It will be my first long TT since my crash at nationals so I've vowed to race hard but within my limits and to not be too hard on myself if I don't ride as well as I have in the past. It would be great to crack the top 10 on GC after tomorrow, and I will try my best to do that," said Cutler. "It's also a great course for my teammate Rhae and I'm hoping she can have a great ride and get a good result for herself and the team."
More pictures from today's stage:
Main Field on MacKenzie Pass climb
Amy Thornquist [DNA p/b Plan 7]
Breanna Nalder [DNA p/b Plan 7]
Andrea Dvorak [Exergy]