By Neal Rogers
Successfully staying away from the field, 7UP-Nutra Fig’s John Lieswyn and Hutch’s Nicole Demars tasted victory Saturday at stage 5 of the Cascade Classic in Bend, Oregon.
In the women’s 56-mile race over rolling hills and a tough climb after the start/finish, several attacks were reabsorbed before a breakaway finally stuck with Demars and Saturn’s Jessica Phillips.
The two rode nearly half the 56-mile race together off the front, creating a comfortable gap of 2:30 by the last seven-mile lap. Demars had the better punch at the finish, with Phillips taking second place. The consistent Heather Alberts of Goldy’s led the field in for third, with overall race leader Saturn’s Kim Bruckner finishing safely in the group, maintaining her lead.
The men’s race, held in the heat of the day, saw Mike Creed of Prime Alliance attack first, just half a mile into the 77-mile stage. Others bridged across over the course of the first lap and the gap opened up to 1:10 by the finish of the first lap. With Creed only one minute behind race leader Chris Wherry, the Mercury train set a hard tempo riding on the front to control the gap and protect Wherry’s overall lead.
After the first lap on the one kilometer long KOM hill, Saturn’s Tim Johnson made his own bold move and attacked the Mercury train, bridging across to the lead break. It took him just half the lap to reach the leaders, now a strong group of seven who were all interested in staying away from the peloton.
As the gap continued to grow up to a maximum of 2:15 the Mercury men stuck to their defensive tempo riding. They gradually increased the speed with around four laps to go and the gap started coming down. For the last four laps, each time up the KOM climb, there were attacks which disassembled the Mercury train. However, they were able to regroup each time and continue to bring the gap down. By the bell lap the gap was down to just 30 seconds and the break was down to four as they forged on. Mercury starting to show signs of exhaustion the stage was set for a very close finish.
In the end the breakaway barely made it to the line with Leiswyn taking the win over Creed and Johnson.
With only a short criterium tomorrow, today’s Tumelo Grand Prix Circuit Race in the hilly terrain north of Bend was probably the final opportunity at this tour for contenders to take a real shot at overtaking the leaders.
Kirby Nagelhout Construction Grand Prix;
Women, 56 miles
1. Nicole Demars, Hutch’s;
2. Jessica Phillips, Saturn;
3. Heather Alberts, Goldy’s;
No change in GC
Men, 77 miles;
1. Jon Leiswyn, 7Up/Nutrafig;
2. Mike Creed, Prime Alliance;
3. Tim Johnson, Saturn;
No change in GC