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Stage 4: Optum wins fast, action-packed stage

Fast, attack-filled criterium in downtown Bend ends in a photo finish with Hall taking the win over Olds.

The fifth stage of the Cascade Cycling Classic took place in downtown Bend for a 50-minute criterium.

With the biggest women's pro field at a US race this year, and lots of primes and points up for grabs, the race was fast and action-packed.

Attacks started as early as three laps into the race with solo racers from TIBCO and NOW trying to ride away from the pack. But the pack was quick to respond and close any gaps.

Things got really active in the last 15 minutes which saw two points laps and five prime laps before the final sprint.

Despite the many attempts, the race came down to a mass sprint with TIBCO, Optum and NOW duking in out for the win.

It came down to Shelley Olds and Lauren Hall at the line and it was a very close call.

Just how close was the final sprint? Check out the photo finish!

Hall won by just a fraction of an inch over Olds and Alison Powers rounded out the podium.

"This does give us momentum going into tomorrow and I imagine we will try to be aggressive on Awbrey Butte and see what unfolds," commented Hall.

It was a great race for Optum, who had set out to take the sprint jersey and the stage. They accomplished just that with Leah Kirchmann grabbing points in every sprint lap, and rewarding herself with the sprint jersey for tomorrow's stage.

Despite their failed attempts to get a break, Olds said TIBCO is happy with the result.

"I've been sick all week and I'm satisfied with finishing second two times here at the Cascade Classic," said Olds. "As a team we are happy with our race so far. We will continue to race for the tour victory. Tomorrow will be an exciting stage also."

Without a true sprinter in their mix, NOW and Novartis was also trying to organize a break but was satisfied with the team performance.

"My team and Tibco did most of the attacking. We were hoping for a break," said Alison Powers. "Once we saw that no breaks were sticking we decided to lead out for a sprint. It was a great team effort lead out and despite not having a pure sprinter, we still got 3rd."

Tomorrow will be another fast day of racing as the women stay in Bend for the Awbrey Butte circuit race. The women will complete three 17- mile loops with more KOM and sprint points as well as tome bonuses for the taking. Kristin McGrath (Exergy) is still holding on to the yellow and Jasmin Glaesser continues to be the strongest young rider. Claudia Hauesler is holding on to the polka dots and TIBCO leads the team GC.

More pictures from today's stage:


Hall celebrates with Holcombe

Anne Perry (DNA pb Plan 7) in the thick of the action