By Dave Campbell, Special to VeloNews
Drizzly Oregon weather didn’t keep Trexlertown regular Cassandra Osorio-McKenna (Hot Tubes) from winning the miss-and-out and points race Saturday at the Alpenrose Velodrome Challenge, though a couple of events had to be shortened to accommodate the damp conditions, including the men’s scratch race and Madison, won by Milton Wynants and Agustin Margaleff (Uruguay National Team).
Saturday’s racing at Portland’s Alpenrose Velodrome began with the 200-meter qualifiers for the sprint tournament. Dean Tracy (Team Rubicon) posted a 12.01, with Stephen McLaughry (Bike Central) upping the ante in 11.80, but then three-time defending champion Stephen Alfred (Family Cycling Center) tore up the track with an 11.45, just .09 shy of Jeff LaBauve’s 2002 track record.
Alfred and Tracy moved swiftly and efficiently through the early sprint rounds while eighth-seeded Matthew Chater (Schwalbe Cycling) of Canada raced through the reps to contest the three-up final. The 36-year-old Alfred controlled from the front while tenacious local hero Tracy, 16 years his junior, made a huge charge on the backstretch to try to overtake the experienced sprint specialist but fell a half bike length short, giving Alfred his fourth win here in six years. Chater’s late charge left him a wheel behind Tracy in third.
In the women’s keirin final, following two heats and a repechage, eight women ripped off the line to stack up behind the motor and jockey for six laps on the concrete oval. Calgary’s Jenny Trew (Oak Bay Bicycles) valiantly defended the front position for nearly the entire race, just holding off fellow Canadian Breanna Loster (Dr. Walker) and Washington pursuit ace Annette Hanson (Team Rubicon).
Hanson drove the pace relentlessly in the women’s miss-and-out until only teammate Norrene Godfrey and 17-year-old Cassandra Osorio-McKenna (Hot Tubes) were left on her wheel. The last three laps turned into a match sprint, with Godfrey jumping first, forcing the youngster to chase, apparently setting up Hanson perfectly. The closing speed of the T-Town regular, however, proved too much for the Rubicon teammates, and Osario took a convincing victory over Hanson.
The hot, muggy day started to turn drizzly with 13 laps remaining in the men’s 10-mile scratch race, and officials decided to shorten the race, posting two laps to go.
It made for a wild finish. Midway through the race, a blistering attack by Uruguay’s Wynants had put him a lap up, and shortly thereafter his teammate Margaleff tagged onto Mike Creed (U.S. Postal Service-Berry Floor) to join him in lapping the field. Just before the weather deteriorated, Josh Kerkoff (Team Rubicon), Joey D’Antoni (Cycles de Oro), Kenny Williams (First Rate Mortgage) and Andrew Small (Team Revolution) also took a lap over the rapidly splintering field.
The upshot was a mad seven-man sprint that saw the leaders charging through the lapped riders before the track became too slippery to ride. Wynants and Margaleff emerged from the chaos in first and second, with Creed unable to match their finishing speed.
A 29-rider field lined the railing for the afternoon’s miss-and-out, which was raced relentlessly from the gun largely due to the pacesetting of Team Uruguay, Creed, and Bobby Lea (River City Bicycles).
Lea and Jame Carney, his teammate for the weekend, barely made the start, as their plane arrived late from Pennsylvania, where they raced Friday night at T-town, but it didn’t affect their performance. As the field thinned, Carney lurked at the back, playing the devil in this “devil take the hindmost” event, slipping past the last rider lap after lap to stay in the race and put other contenders, including Small and Creed, out of the race.
The race boiled down to the two River City teammates and scratch-race champ Wynants. Swooping, switching, and using the whole track, the River City twosome executed some textbook teamwork to set up Carney’s attack out of turn four, just before the bell. Lea positioned himself well, forcing the rapid Uruguyan to go the long way around, and Carney hung on for the victory, with Lea in third.
The women’s points race, also shortened by light showers, started fast, with numerous attacks splintering the field, but by midpoint had settled into a more tactical sit-and-wait sprint affair. This scenario perfectly suited the quick acceleration of Osorio-McKenna, who took a narrow lead over Hanson at the bell for the double points finale. Showing power as well as speed, she controlled the entire last lap to win with 34 points to Hanson’s 27, while Trew was third with 12.
This rain delay meant the Madison was shortened to just 30 minutes with points sprints every five minutes, and the racing was ferocious. Uruguayans Margaleff and Wynants were especially aggressive, launching off the front early, quickly taking a lap and then strongly defending through to the end. Lea and Carney scored more points, 29 to 21, but despite working hard to move clear had to settle for second. Ryan Miller (Prime Alliance), the 20-time national champion, paired with D’Antoni, exchanging as smoothly and rapidly as if they had ridden together for years, to place third.
The evening’s racing closed with the Olympic sprint, won resoundingly by the Canadian squad of Keith Bruneau, Dave McElhaw, and Chater, who threw down an impressive 55.29. Mike McCorkell, Williams, and Ryan Williams were closest in 56.91, while sprinters McLaughery and Alfred couldn’t keep Arizona State’s Josh Ryan in their draft and managed only a 57.81 for third. The top women’s team was Loster, Trew and Heather VanValkenburg with 1:03:61.
On tap for Sunday is the men’s keirin and points race, and match sprinting and a five-mile scratch race for the women. Both fields will contest the Carl Cadinau Sr. Memorial Alpenrose Flying Lap, and Alfred’s sprint times indicate he is on target for the track record, which should help bring an exciting end to a great weekend of track racing.