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Three days after his solo bid at Three Creeks Sno Park fell short, David Tanner (Fly V Australia) took his stage win in the Downtown Criterium Saturday at the Cascade Cycling Classic. Rory Sutherland, whose UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis team controlled the tempo in the peloton all night, finished with the bunch to keep his overall lead ahead of Sunday’s final stage.
Joanne Kiesanowski followed a bell-lap surge by her Tibco-To The Top leadout train to a stage 4 win of her own Saturday. Mara Abbott (Peanut Butter & Co.-Twenty12) finished safely at the end of the 60-minute circuit to maintain her lead in the general classification.
Four corners in downtown Bend
The four-corner, nearly flat downtown circuit was fit for high speeds and a bunch sprint. The most technical section of the course, the single-lane, one-block run-in to the final corner, wasn’t tricky enough to trip up the riders and the slightly downhill finish straight gave the throngs of fans a good show in both races.
Tibco train delivers
The racing was chippy for the women from the gun, but the peloton was set on finishing with a bunch sprint and the group got what it wanted. Runner-up in the GC Cath Cheatley (Colavita-Baci) and Vera Bradley Foundation’s Robin Farina and Alison Powers were among those to put in efforts to escape, but with three laps to go, the race was all together, though with no real organization at the front.
That changed, however, when Tibco’s leadout took control headed into the bell lap. With Kiesanowski on the back, five Tibco riders came through on the left side of the road to start the final go around. Across the lane, Powers led a second train to the front, but they were squeezed in the first corner and lost momentum.
Facing a mild headwind, Kiesanowski stayed on teammate Brooke Miller’s wheel until 200 meters to go, when she opened her sprint on the left side of the road. She shot away to an early gap, but was drawn back as she approached the line; the Kiwi held on, though, and took the win by half a wheel.
“My team were just amazing,” said Kiesanowski. “It was just a great team race the whole race.”
Abbott will enter the final stage Sunday an advantage of 1:44 over Cheatley in the overall. Erinne Willock sits in third, 2:32 back.
As the sun began to fade in Bend, 151 men took the start 10 minutes after the women finished, but within another 10, there would be only a handful in contention for the stage win. In the first five laps a group of riders jumped away from the bunch and, with the right combination of teams and GC positions, UnitedHealthcare took the front and allowed the break to go out to a maximum advantage of 40 seconds.
A pair of crashes in the field sent riders including Ian Holt (Rio Grande) and Fabio Calabria (Team Type 1) to the pit. In one of the incidents, riders ended up in the finish barriers on the right side of the road, where they nearly ended up in the laps of fans dining at a local restaurant.
Up ahead, Tanner and Jacques-Maynes bridged with a hard three-lap effort and the final group was made. Alongside the latecomers were U.S. elite criterium champion Steve Reaney (Cal Giant Berry Farms), Mike Northey (Rubicon-Orbea), Caleb Fairly (Holowesko Partners), Jay Thomson (V Australia), Jesse Sergent (Trek-Livestrong) and Daniel Harm (Rio Grande).
“I knew that I had to get across because it was clear obviously that the UnitedHealthcare guys wanted a break to go and I knew that it was either get across or miss the race,” said Tanner.
The group rolled turns smoothly for over an hour as four UHC riders shared the work back in the peloton. Sutherland’s team was content to allow the group to stay away, so long as Jacques-Maynes did not threaten their overall lead.
“You don’t want to kill all the boys and I think first and foremost, you have to go for the overall tomorrow and the way you do that is to stay safe and that’s first and foremost,” said Sutherland. “It’s no mistake, it goes to plan B and you’ve got to hold the overall and that’s exactly what happened.”
Their advantage secure and the numbers on the lap counter fading, the leaders began the gamesmanship. Fairly attacked entering the first corner in the final lap. Thomson and Jacques-Maynes each had good digs as well, but as they exited the final corner, Reaney accelerated, hoping to find his second win in a month in Bend. Tanner stayed in his slipstream, though, and came around for the win in the last 200 meters.
“I had Jay Thomson with me and that guy is unbelievable, he’s perfect,” said Tanner. “I noticed that there was a slight headwind up the finish straight and I knew that I couldn’t lead out too early, so I was third through the last corner and I just kind of stayed calm and waited for a guy to start his sprint. I jumped on his wheel and with 200 meters I gave it everything and luckily I stayed calm, so it all worked out well.”
Reaney came up just short of the win, but was thrilled with his ability to stave off the games and finish on the podium. “It was more just the pro guys don’t know who you are and they’re going to play off you, but I’ve been there a couple of times, so I knew to play Ben against the two Fly V Australia guys so I didn’t get used up,” said Reaney. “They were super strong; I feel honored to even be near them in the race, so not expected, and this course wasn’t one of my favorites and now it is.”
Tanner narrowly missed taking the stage 1 McKenzie Pass Road Race, but it was the criterium that he’d held in the back of his mind for a potential win. He was solo on the final climb on Wednesday, but Sutherland and teammate Marc de Maar caught him in the final 500 meters to secure the stage and GC lead. “I was a little bit disappointed that day, I only fell a little bit short,” said Tanner. “I kind of always thought I’d have a crack at tonight.”
Sutherland finished safely in the field and will start Sunday’s final stage with a :20 lead over Ben Day (V Australia) in the overall standings. Day’s teammate Darren Lill sits in third at :55.
The final stage of the Cascade Classic kicks off at 1:00 p.m. Sunday at Summit High School on the west side of town. The Awbrey Butte Circuit Race, now a Cascade tradition, challenges riders with a 17-mile circuit that rolls gradually downhill over the opening miles before returning to Bend via two climbs – one quarter-mile, seven percent affair that leads to the feedzone and the ultra-steep, stair-stepping Archie Briggs KOM.
The men will face five laps (83 miles), while the women will take on three laps (52 miles). Time bonuses of ten, six and four seconds are available at the finish in both races. KOM and sprint points will be on offer on laps two, three and four for the men and lap two for the women, while sprint points will also be available at the finish of each race.
The win has been swirling on the circuit in the afternoons this week and if the overall leaders are to maintain their positions, they’ll need to pay close attention to the front of the race as the course zigs and zags its way north of Bend.