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BMC Cascade Cycling Classic Preview

Longest US stage race kicks off tomorrow, follow the race with rider comments here!

We will be following the women’s race at the 2013 BMC Cascade Cycling Classic in Bend, Oregon, with comments throughout the stage race from racers such as Alison Powers, Lauren Hall, Breanna Walle and more.

The 2013 BMC Cascade Cycling Classic kicks off tomorrow and, with six days of racing, it’s the longest stage race in the US. With an NRC ranking of 2.2, the race has attracted most of North America’s top cyclists and teams over the years, and it will be an exciting one to follow as freshly-crowned Giro winner Mara Abbott will go head-to-head with last year’s winner Alison Powers and the likes for the win.

About the race:

Now in its 34th year, the Cascade Cycling Classic is the longest consecutively run elite stage race in the US, though it wasn’t until 2002 that a women’s race was added. With that said, CCC does have equal prize money for the Top 3 in the overall, for stage placing and for the KOM, Sprint, Young Rider and team competitions.

Emily Collins during the prologue of the 2011 Cascade Classic

The race kicks off with a 2.8-mile technical prologue and will have five addition stages ranging from hilly road races to a fast, flat crit.

"Cascade is great," said last year’s winner Alison Powers (NOW and Novartis). "It's the longest stage race of the year at six days and it has everything: a stage for climbers, a crit for sprinters-- plus time bonuses that almost lost me the race last year--, a long and short TT for every kind of TT'er and opportunities for breakaways. Each day is a really great course."

Lauren Hall (Optum), who finished the Giro Rosa barely a week ago, added: "Cascade Cycling Classic is THE perfect race because of the different stages, each unique from the other. I love the prologue, I love the speed, technicality and it kicks the race in high gear immediately. The climb on the second day is a true climbers' climb with a long, constant grade, a small non-technical decent and finishes off with another 10k of climbing that really wears on you after a long day in the saddle. I love the new TT course, a couple of risers, winding through a canyon, very straightforward."

Who to watch:

Mara Abbott:

Mara Abbott In Yellow at the 2010 Cascade Classic

Mara Abbott proved to be Marianne Vos’ biggest competition at the Giro and after winning the Giro for a second time, she will likely be riding around with a big target on her back.

Mara is a big stand out, said Hall. "Teams will have to try and get a head start on the climbs to avoid huge time gaps."

"Mara Abbott is, obviously, super strong and her Exergy teammates are too," added Powers. "Kristin McGrath could be someone to watch out for as well."

Alison Powers:

Alison Powers wore yellow in the first stage of the 2010 Cascade Classic

Last year, Powers won by default after Kristin Armstrong dropped out of the race midway through. This year, Powers is motivated to win again.

"Yes, I want to win. My team is super strong and motivated and I am, too. This year, I would like to win it out right," she said.

Hall added that along with Abbott, Powers is a big favorite. "Alison has had solid, fast TT times this year," Hall said. "So I can see her gunning for time that day."

Team Optum:

Powers speculates that Optum will be fierce, stating: "Optum always is strong and anyone from their team is a threat every single day."

And Hall revealed that Team Optum will indeed be aggressive:

"It's physically hard to come from the Giro and have eight days in between races, not a full break and too long to stay race ready but I know once my legs have opened up, I will be fine," said Hall. "I love the CCC and Bend, so to come here for me, it's fun, I missed my Optum teammates, so it's good to be back with them and Rachel always has aggressive tactics which I enjoy."

Claudia Haeusler and team Tibco:

Haeusler is another rider who had an impressive performance at Giro and will be one to watch.

"Tibco and Claudia Hausler [are ones to watch for]. A lot depends on how everyone recovered physically and mentally from the Giro," said Powers.

There you have it. Check back often as we’ll be reporting daily. In the meantime, you can follow the action on the Cascade Cycling Classic twitter feed and facebook.