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Mt. Hood stage race adds new stages, but cancels women’s race

Mount Hood is often the backdrop for the stage race. Photo: Pat Malach

By Phil Heckler

The 2010 Mt. Hood Cycling Classic has a new sponsor, two new stages for pro men, and is breaking with tradition by traveling from Oregon into the state of Washington on one stage.

However, organizers of the challenging 6-day event, held June 1-6, has canceled its pro women’s race, citing conflicts with two major women’s events.

The race’s new title sponsor is Indie Hops of Portland, a new supplier to the craft beer industry. New stages include a prologue at the Portland International Raceway and the jaunt into Washington on stage 2, which finishes at the base of the volcanic Mount Adams.

The event also includes its traditional Mt. Tabor circuit race in Portland (stage 1), the Scenic Gorge time trial (stage 3), the Wy’East Road Race (stage 4), which finishes at the Mount Hood ski area, and the concluding Hood River Criterium.

The race also has expanded the challenge for amateur men by offering a 6-day (prologue plus five stages) Category 2 race.

Women will be back.

Race director Chad Sperry said he hopes to revive the women’s competition for the 2011 calendar.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a long slow road (back),” Sperry said. “With so few options, the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic is appealing.”

Sperry said the Tulsa Tough NRC event (June 4-6) and Philadelphia’s Liberty Classic women’s race (June 6) would have kept many of the top women away from Mt. Hood. The Liberty Classic is the only UCI women’s race in the U.S., and one of just two in North America, following the cancellation of three planned UCI women’s events in Canada.

Last year, the Mt. Hood race overlapped with the Liberty Classic, resulting in just 24 starters at Mt. Hood and 76 at Liberty. “In hindsight, we wouldn’t have run it,” Sperry said.

Linda Jackson, president and founder of the TIBCO womens team, called the cancellation “disappointing.”

“I understand it from a race director’s point of view,” Jackson said.  TIBCO will be sending six racers to the Liberty Classic, but with 13 riders on the roster, she said she would have sent a team to Mt. Hood, as well.

Back to the NRC?

Sperry said that the goal is to get the race back to the level of 2008, when Mount Hood was UCI sanctioned and on the National Racing Calendar, even attracting French cycling legend Jeannie Longo.

The 2010 race is not part of the NRC because in September organizers had not secured a title sponsor.

Besides Indie Hops, other new sponsors include UnitedHealthcare, Gorge Delight and Full Sail Brewing Company.

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