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Chris Stastny, Alison Starnes score Columbia Gorge wins at Mt. Hood stage race

HOOD RIVER, Oregon (VN) – Kristin Armstrong (Peanut Butter & Co. Twenty 12) and Clara Hughes (Pactimo Cycling Team) continued to mark each other during Friday’s 56 mile Stage 1 Columbia Gorge Road Race at the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic. But while the two former Olympians watched each other, Armstrong’s teammate Alison Starnes sneaked off the front, finished more than a minute ahead of the two favorites and grabbed a 10 second time bonus on her way to taking over the race leader’s jersey.

2011 Mt. Hood Cycling Classic, Stage 1,Curves
The men's field descends through the Rowena Curves.

Starnes now leads Armstrong by 1:04 and Hughes by 1:25 heading into Saturday’s stage 2 morning time trial in Trout Lake, Washington.

The Stage 1 Columbia Hills Road Race threw 56 miles and 5,050 feet of climbing at the women’s peloton on a sunny and hot, nearly windless afternoon in the Gorge. The main feature of the day, aside from climbing and descending through the iconic Rowena Curves along the Historic Highway, was the Seven Mile climb riders faced about two-thirds of the way through the race. Exposed and seemingly endless, the climb was the chosen spot for the Peanut Butter & Co Twenty 12 team to decimate a field that had hung on during the climb out of Mosier and another back to Rowena.

Starnes popped out of the lead group that contained Armstrong, Hughes and Peanut Butter & Co.’s Kristin McGrath as they reached the top of Seven Mile and started the descent into Mosier.

“My teammates put in a lot of work over each climb,” Starnes said. “That was just another one. The girls on the team just set a really heavy pace, so it was hard on everyone, myself included.”

But the determined rider clawed her way back to the leaders as they approached the top of the Rowena climb. Although she had fought hard to make it back to the lead group, Starnes didn’t stay there long. Countering a move from McGrath, Starnes opened up nice gap on the others, leaving Hughes to chase in a Peanut Butter & Co. sandwich.

“I wanted to be there to support Kristin so she’d have more teammates around her as she came into the finish,” Starnes said. “There were three of us with Clara, so we were just kind of playing off each other. I countered a move by Kristin McGrath and then went for it with about 5k to go.”

The superior numbers of her break companions eventually wore Hughes down.

“I was totally outnumbered,” Hughes said. “But it’s bike racing, and I’ve been in the position of having the numbers and being on a strong team. I know the game, and they raced really well. There was only so much I could do. I thought I’d test it out and see if I could get a gap attacking, but Kristin Armstrong is riding so strong right now — she’s awesome — and she shut the gap right away.”

Hughes said with the three Peanut Butter & Co. riders in a four-woman break, she was happy to come up with second. Starnes, however, was hammering for the win.

By the finish, Starnes had put more than a minute into Armstrong, Hughes and McGrath, who had been caught by Keller Rohrback’s Rhae Shaw. Hughes took the sprint from that group to grab second and a six-second bonus. Armstrong was third and got a four-second bonus. Shaw managed fourth, with McGraw crossing the line fifth. Hughes’ teammate Jade Wilcoxson finished several minutes down in sixth. The next 10 riders came across in groups of two and three, while what was left of the main field finished nearly eight minutes after the leaders.

Starnes now has a nice buffer heading into the Saturday doubleheader, starting with the morning time trial. Will it be enough to hold off to of the best time trial specialists in the world?

“I like to time trial,” Starnes said. “I got third yesterday in the prologue, so I’m looking forward to testing out the legs tomorrow. Unfortunately, I did a lot of time trialing out there today, but we’ll see. It’s a fun race, so I’m ready to give it a go.”

Stastny gets the men’s win, Haga keeps the jersey

In the men’s race, Chad Haga of Colorado’s Team Rio Grande kept his leader’s jersey after a tough day of riding that included two trips up the Seven Mile climb for a total of 84 miles and 7,800 feet of climbing. Christopher Stastny (California Giant/Specialized) won the field sprint to take the win and claim the 10 second time bonus. Louis Crosby (Pure Black Racing) was second and Nathaniel English (Yahoo! Cycling Team) was third.

Stastny’s effort moved him into second place overall, four seconds behind the leader. David Stephens (Garneau Evolution) and English are both six seconds in arrears. Mike Olhesier (Juwi Solar/First) sits fifth, just eight seconds back.

Without a single dominant team, the men’s race turned into a shootout with plenty of climbers hoping Seven Mile would also make the difference in their race. But the big climb came too far from the finish for the climbers to rule the day as the groups kept coming back together . But that didn’t stop the climbers from trying.

Five riders escaped the field the second time up Seven Mile, including English, Ian Boswell (Trek-Livestrong), Jason Thompson (Garneau Evolution), Sebastian Salas (Team H&R Block) and Coulton Hartrich (Chemstar/United Healthcare). The quintet gained a sizable advantage over two 12-rider groups chasing furiously behind. Once the two chase groups reconnected, Haga went to the front in an attempt to reel in the leaders by driving the pace down the descent from Rowena. It worked. The groups came back together as the riders charged toward the finish among a flurry of attacks over the final flat 10 kilometers.

“There were a bunch of attacks,” Stastny said of the run to the line. “Guys weren’t really working together. Everybody was just trying to get off the front after the final descent. My last teammate, James Mattis, had to get on the front with 2k to go and took me to about 700 meters. Then there were different lead outs from the left and the right. I was just kind of surfing around.”

Stastny’s surfing paid off with the fastest finish out of the 30-strong group, leaving enough room to post a victory salute at the line.

Haga finished 10th, with the same time as Stastny, to keep his race lead.

“Hopefully I can pick up some time tomorrow at the time trial and give myself a little cushion for Sunday’s stage,” Haga said.

The Mt. Hood Cycling Classic continues Saturday with the morning time trial and an evening criterium in downtown Hood River. The stage race ends Sunday with the Three Summits Road Race on Mt. Hood.

Mt. Hood Cycling Classic
Stage 2 Columbia Gorge Road Race


Stage 1

  • 1. Christopher Stastny, California Giant/Specialized, 3:28:53
  • 2. Louis Crosby, Pure Black Racing, same time
  • 3. Nathaniel English, Yahoo! Cycling Team, s.t.
  • 4. Mike Olheiser, Juwi Solar/First Solar, s.t.
  • 5. Frank Spiteri, Marc Pro/Strava, s.t.
  • 6. Chase Pinkham, Bissell pro Cycling Team, s.t.
  • 7. James Winger, Yahoo!, s.t.
  • 8. Michael Booth, Ski-Utah/Market Star, s.t.
  • 9. Stefano Barberi, Team Stefano Barberi, s.t.
  • 10. Chad Haga, Team Rio Grande, s.t.


  • 1. Chad Haga, Team Rio Grande, 3:35:22
  • 2. Christopher Stastny, California Giant/Specilaized, at 0:04
  • 3. David Stephens, Garneau Evolution, at 0:06
  • 4. Nathaniel English, Yahoo! Cycling, at 0:06
  • 5. Mike Olhesier, Juwi Solar/First, at 0:08
  • 6. Garrett McLeod, Team H&R Block, at 0:08
  • 7. Michael Mathis, Ride Clean, at 0:10
  • 8. Frank Spiteri, Marc Pro – Strava, at 0:11
  • 9. Sebastian Salas, Team H&R Block, at 0:12
  • 10. Travis McCabe, Landis/Trek, at 0:13


Stage 1

  • 1. Alison Starnes, Peanut Butter & Co. Twenty 12, 2:35:45
  • 2. Clara Hughes, Pactimo Cycling Team, at 1:14
  • 3. Kristin Armstrong, Peanut Butter & Co. Twenty 12, at 1:14
  • 4. Rhae Shaw, Keller Rohrback, at 1:14
  • 5. Kristin McGrath, Peanut Butter & Co. Twenty 12, at 1:16
  • 6. Jade Wilcoxson, Pactimo Cycling Team, at 2:23
  • 7. Ashley Koch, TriSports Cycling/Eclipse, at 4:26
  • 8. Nik Vogler, Westwood Cycle Cannondale, at 4:26
  • 9. Kelly Crowley, Metromint, at 4:26
  • 10. Kristine Brynjolfson, Trek-Red Truck Racing, at 4:26


  • 1. Alison Starnes, Peanut Butter & Co. Twenty 12, 2:42:41
  • 2. Kristin Armstrong, Peanut Butter & Co. Twenty 12, at 1:04
  • 3. Clara Hughes, Pactimo Cycling Team, at 1:25
  • 4. Rhae Shaw, Keller Rohrback, at 1:14
  • 5. Kristin McGrath, Peanut Butter & Co. Twenty 12, at 1:47
  • 6. Jade Wilcoxson, Pactimo Cycling Team, at 2:49
  • 7. Tayler Wiles, Peanut Butter & Co. Twenty 12, at 5:14
  • 8. Ashley Cook, TriSports Cycling/Eclipse, at 5:16
  • 8. Nik Vogler, Westwood Cycle Cannondale, at 4:26
  • 9. Kristine Brynjolfson, Trek-Red Truck Racing, at 5:21
  • 10. Molly Van Houweling, Metromint, at 5:30

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