The third day of the Cascade Cycling Classic was divided into 2 stages - Stage 3 in the morning was the 15-mile out and back Skyliners Time Trial. And then the day capped off with stage 4, the popular six corners, flat and fast Criterium in the heart of downtown Bend in front of an appreciative crowd stacked two to three people deep over the seven tenths of a mile course.
No surprises in the TT results. Yellow jersey Kristin Armstrong (Cervelo-Lifeforce) set the fastest time if 31:55.3 with an average speed of 26.32 mph (42.35 kmph). She beat Webcor's Christine Thorburn by 52 seconds and another Webcor rider Katheryn Mattis by 1:47. Aaron's Julie Beveridge who was second on GC at the start of the day finished in the fourth spot at 2:03 behind Armstrong.
Armstrong increased her lead in the overall classification. Thorburn moved up to the second spot, 1:55 behind Armstrong and Best Young Rider Beveridge is now in third place 2:50 behind the leader. Kristin Sanders (Aaron’s) leads the QOM competition, and Webcor leads the team classification.
In the men's race, Levi Leipheimer (Astana) crushed the competition. Want numbers? Read on.... he stopped the clock at 28:07.9 averaging a speed of 29.88 mph (48.08 kmph) and took over the leadership in the GC. The BMC duo of Jeff Louder and Darren Lill set the next 2 fastest times, at 1:15 and 1:20 respectively behind the winner. Tom Zirbel (Bissell) and Ben Day (Toyota-United) were fourth and fifth both at 1:35 back. Yellow jersey Matt Wilson (Team Type 1) was 3:04 slower and had to relinquish the leader's jersey.
Zirbel moves up to second place in the general classification 1:58 behind Leipheimer, and Louder takes over the third sport, a further 4 seconds back. Only one minute and 11 seconds separate the second and seventh spots in the GC with 2 BMC riders, 2 riders from Toyota-United: Chris Baldwin and Chris Wherry, Zirbel and Wilson. And then, we have 5 Garmen in the classification at 1:34 from Louder.
In the other competitions, Wilson leads the KOM and Garmin-Chipotle's Peter Stetina leads the Best Young Rider competition and Garmin-Chipotle leads the team classification.
There would be no changes in the overall GC after the evening's crit - read more about the crit on the flip side.
Next up is Stage 5, the Cascade Lakes Road Race which utilizes most of the same roads of past year's events. The riders will take the Cascade Lakes Highway up to Mt. Bachelor before turning south on Forest Service Roads that travel around Crane Prairie Reservoir Elk Lake and the infamous Sparks Lake climb before finishing at the Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort. The pro men will race over a 83-mile (134 km) course while the pro women ride 67 miles (108 km). (Women's course profile here)
"We’ve got a good plan for today though. The stage starts out with a pretty stiff climb up to 6000 ft with another mountain top finish." wrote Garman Blake Caldwell about stage 5.
With no teammates in the case of Armstrong and only one, Chris Horner for Leipheimer, the two yellow jersey wearers followed the same strategy in the crit, stay at the front where it's safer, and in the end let the sprinters duke it out.
After 90 minutes of racing, Dominique Rollin (Toyota-United) pipped Kyle Gritters (Health Net-Maxxis) at the line in the bunch sprint to win the stage. Ricardo Escuela (Successful Living) was third.
"Before the race, it was our race to lose." said Toyota-United DS Len Pettyjohn to KTVZ after the race. "There was a little bit of pressure on our guys to perform because everybody expect thats."
As soon as the early break went away, the complete Toyota-United team came to the front to control the field, never letting the gap increase to more than 20 seconds. As per the plan, the team reeled it back with less than 10 laps to go and set up their fast man Rollin.
"It's quite comforting to see our guys showing up there, it allows us to show strength and scares everyone else, it gets quiet." said a happy Rollin to KTVZ about having his whole team at the front. "It's actually easier to be out front, you're not fighting for position, you're not always slamming on the breaks before a corner so you can kind of keep a steady pace. It makes the race a little bit smoother."
"It was a hairy crit with tons of crashes." wrote BMC DS Gavin Chilcott in the team report. Unfortunately for the team, Jonathan Garcia who is just returning to racing after a crash at Tour de Suisse, crashed again. He didn't finish the stage and required stitches but he was given a pro-rated time and will be able to race again tomorrow.
Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) also crashed out with more serious injuries, a broken collarbone. But the good news is that it's a clean break (only for cyclists would this be considered good news).
In the women's race, after 60 minutes of racing, Tibco's Brooke Miller took the honors ahead of Gina Grain (Webcor) and Alison Testroete (Aaron's).
"We wanted the win and when it was apparent that it was going to be a field sprint, I stayed top five and used the other teams lead outs to bring me in," said Miller to cyclingnews. "I wanted to start the sprint behind Gina Grain who was the fastest sprinter with the best lead out."
The pace was kept high by ValueAct, Webcor, Tibco and Aaron's, breaks were tried, and none were successful. But the high tempo did reduce the numbers in the field with riders being shelled out the back and eventually pulled by the officials. Yellow jersey Kristin Armstrong (Cervelo-Lifeforce) was always present in the top 10 on the peloton, staying safe and keeping an eye on things.