By Dave Campbell, Special to VeloNews
The Alpenrose Velodrome Challenge, now the biggest purse track event in North America, opened Friday in Portland, Oregon with the time trial events. Despite cool, cloudy, and breezy conditions the steeply banked 268 meter oval and noisy crowd drew out some outstanding performances. The highlights included a new track record in the pursuit and a near-miss in the Kilometer.
Perennial pursuit power Mike Tillman of Schroeder Iron won the Men’s 4000m Individual Pursuit final in 4:54:23. Chris Carlson’s old mark of 4:54:87 dated back to the EDS Cup held here in 1997. World Masters Champion Kenny Williams (Saturn of Bellevue) was second in 5:05:69, with Stanford University’s Tyler Ofstad finishing third.
U.S. National team member Erin Mirabella (Red 5 Racing) won the women’s 3000m event in 4:03:85 over JoAnne Kiesanowski of Diet Rite with 2000 World Masters Pursuit Champion Annette Hanson of Team Rubicon less than half a second back in 3rd. Capitol Velo rider Steven Yenne topped a small, but quality Masters field in 4:02:35.
The evening session kicked off with multiple National and World Champion Woody Cox (Saturn of Bellevue) winning the Masters 50 and over 500 meter time trial in an impressive 38:89. Californian Suzie Tignor (Frisco) regained her 2000 title in a rock-solid 39:84 over Kiesanowski and Saturn of Bellevue’s Effie Wardenberg.
The Kilometer rides began with Tim Goodwin (Frisco Cycling) laying down an impressive 1:15:17 to top local Darrell Provencher (Rose City Wheelmen) and John Simmons of San Jose, California in the Masters 35 plus field.
The elite Men were well-seeded with nearly each successive rider topping the previous best time. Young Indiana University star Josh Weir (Team Major Motions) sprinted to a blistering start and hung on to top the leader board with a 1:12:56 and it looked like it might stick…until US 200m record holder Jeffrey LaBauve blasted onto the track.
LaBauve, riding for Focus 2004, might have been even faster but mistook the finish line location and erroneously soft-pedaled the last 20 meters to post a scorching 1:09:22. Only Marty Nothstein has raced faster at Alpenrose, setting the track record of 1:08:76 at AVC last year. The last starter was Jeff Hopkins (Team Columbus) whose solid, consistent ride of 1:12:82 was good enough for third.
The awards were presented by local legend Randy Shoquist, who owned the track kilo record from 1979 to 1997. In fact, tonight only LaBauve bettered Shoquist’s 1:11 blast from the past.
The final event of the evening was a 50 lap points race qualifier. Points were awarded every 5 laps with double points at halfway and on the final sprint. Only 13 of the 21 starters would qualify to join the 25 pre-qualifiers for Sunday night’s 150 lap finale.
The field stayed mostly intact for much of the race with Kent Johnston (Lakeside Bicycles) the early leader on points, until 15 year old Jon Long (Team Oregon) took a flyer with about 15 laps to go. Long, the youngest rider in the field, only started track racing just this year with the Alpenrose Wednesday night classes.
He was quickly joined by Simmons, the fields “elder statesman” with the two working well together to open a sizeable gap. An obviously suffering Long finally blew at 3 to go, while Simmons gritted his teeth and tried to hang on alone. He was caught just out of the final turn by a charging Mirabella, racing strongly with the men, and Sim’s rider Glenn Gann of Medford, who took the final sprint to move up to 3rd with 17 points.
Simmons efforts put him even on points (18) with Johnston, but his time off the front netted enough top 3 finishes to break the tie and earn him a hard-fought victory. Mirabella led an impressive showing by the women finishing 4th with Kiesanowski just behind in 5th. As for the youngster Long, he ended a very impressive sixth.