By Dave Campbell, Special to VeloNews
The Alpenrose Velodrome Challenge continued Saturday in Portland, Oregon in sunny and breezy conditions. Anyone who thinks that track racing is dead has not been to the AVC as hundreds of spectators packed the bleachers to enjoy the warm weather and some hot racing.
The morning session began with U.S. 200 meter record holder Jeffrey LaBauve (Focus 2004) knocking down another of Marty Nothstein’s marks, and this time it was the 200 meter time trial record (11:44) that Nothstein set last year. LaBauve blazed around the track in 11:34 to best Stephen Alfred (11:77) and Canadian Keith Bruneau (11:93).
The morning’s heats saw endurance trackie Jame Carney (Prime Alliance) move through the reps to join the two top qualifiers in an action-packed finale. Alfred, who has won this event at AVC both in 1999 and last year, began the final 3-up sprint very early and from the front with Carney quickly conceding to the two sprint specialists.
LaBauve, however, had plenty of fight left to give and tried to come over the top going into the final turn, but Alfred, sprinting just on the edge of legality and barely avoiding a collision, held him up track to power home for the victory by a wheel. Alfred’s 11:54 200-meter time was as spectacular as the finish – and that for a sprint that started with about 400 meters to go. The huge Portland crowd so enjoyed the morning sprint match up that they put up $450 to see it again! In the afternoon session they did, and the two sprinters broke out the whole bag of tricks for a “grudge match”, crawling around the first lap, locking up for an anxious minute in track stands, and then weaving about, each trying to entice the other to open it up. Eventually Alfred led it out, and this time it was LaBauve, 11 years the junior of the Trinidad native, in control and taking the large crowd prime going away.
Sprinter-turned-endurance trackie/roadie Nothstein stamped his authority all over the Men’s 10 mile, which was completed in 21 minutes flat. One of eight riders to take two laps during the race, Nothstein unleashed a scorching acceleration on the backstretch that allowed him time to the salute the crowd all the way down the homestretch, while pursuiter Mike Tillman (Schroeder Iron) showed he also owns a good turn of speed to claim second in front of Canadian Sam Whittingham (PVL/Forte).
Shaun Wallace (Met-Rx), racing with the Masters field for the first time at AVC, took a lap with top lap-prize money winner Mike Eddy (Gregg’s Greenlake Cycles) midway through the 10 mile and then unleashed an awesome burst of speed to take the victory, while Glenn Gann (Sim’s) claimed third.
In other Masters action, Tim Goodwin of Frisco Cycling won the Kierin final over Eddy and his teammate Will Fernyhough after an unfortunate and untimely accident with one and a half laps to go. Woody Cox (Saturn of Bellevue) was later relegated for entering the occupied sprinters lane, which unfortunately ended up sending local Kent Johnston (Lakeside Bicycles) and American Kierin pioneer Gil Hatton (Gotham Cyclists) sprawling onto the track. The final Masters event of the day was a miss-and-out, which saw recently crowned Cascade Classic Masters/Cat 3 champion Steve Holland (Corben-Huntair) launch a timely attack with the field down to just four riders. Cox, in third applauded Holland’s tenacity while Fernyhough broke clear at the bell to claim the runner-up spot.
Some of the most hotly contests events of the day were in the women’s field. JoAnne Kiesanowski (Diet Rite) won an exciting Miss & Out and Erin Mirabella’s (Red 5 Racing) relegation (entering sprinter’s lane while occupied) allowed 19 year old Ashley Kimmet (Serrota) and Suzie Tignor (Frisco Cycling) to round out the podium. Sprinter extraordinaire Tignor’s time would come, however, in the Kierin. The California powerhouse hit the front with a lap to go and with such force that her gap at the line was probably still 10 bike lengths as she saluted the crowd. Mirabella just held off a resurgent Renee Duprel (Gregg’s Greenlake) for second.
The highlight of the women’s racing and probably of the entire day’s program was the 120-lap points race. There was never a period of more than five laps that went by without an attack, with most coming from local hero Norene Godfrey (Team Rubicon) and Colorado rider Renee “Sparky” Eastman (Vitamin Cottage/Morgul Bismark).
Although the headwind on the homestretch repeatedly doomed solo breakaways, these two ladies never stopped trying, ultimately being rewarded with 5th and 6th place. The woman consistently closing the gaps and racking up points all the while to lead from the second sprint to the bell was Kiesanowski.
The urgent requests for standings from an omnipresent Mirabella, however, indicated she knew she was close and as the laps wound down she began closing the points gap to JoAnne. The rider in third position as the laps ticked away was Junior Worlds Points Race silver medallist Ashley Kimmett, and with double points available for the finale, all three had a chance for victory. When Mirabella hit the front just after the bell in a blistering finale, Kiesanowski had her wheel and seemed in control, but the 2000 U.S. Olympic team member had too much left. Mirabella took the final sprint from Kimmet, who also passed an exhausted Kiesanowski and the win…by just 3 points. The final tally was Mirabella 44, Kiesanowski 41, and Kimmet 37.
The Mens miss-and-out could have been subtitled the “Prime Alliance show” with Portland rider John Walrod and Carney riding a textbook team race. Once Nothstein was the last rider pulled, Walrod launched a vicious attack with 3 to go and his teammate Carney turned to Tillman, just daring him to chase. Tillman, no stranger to tactical racing, did not and the two looked set for a virtual match sprint for second.
Walrod, meanwhile was urging the crowd to cheer louder as he thundered down the homestretch. He had ridden much of the race on the front and was rapidly running out of gas, however, as the end drew near. The enthusiasm of the home crowd was just what the tall pursuiter needed and as he pumped his fist in victory down the homestretch, he saw teammate Carney charging up from behind to claim second in front of a hard-working Tillman.
The evening closed with a Madison that was utterly dominated by the Navigators pairing of Nothstein and Tillman. This sprinter/pursuiter dream team were able to win sprints with Nothstein and then throw in Tillman to keep the pressure on and take a lap…which they succeeded in doing to most teams on several occasions.
The Prime Alliance duo of Walrod and Carney were able to go with them on all but one occasion ending the 8 sprint event with 19 points and even laps to Navigators one lap up 33 point tally. The podium was rounded out by the Jelly Belly team of Basil Misal and Derek Wilkerson with 17 points.