By Neal Rogers
After Sunday’s final stage at Cascade– a short criterium course won by Saturn’s Chris Fisher and Hutch’s Sandy Espeseth– there was no change in the overall standings, sealing victory for Chris Wherry (Mercury) and Kimberly Bruckner (Saturn).
Entering the criterium, Bruckner had the overall sealed up, leading by over six minutes as a result of her dominant performance in the opening stage’s road race. Still, she came out swinging Sunday, attacking the field with eight laps to go, with only Espeseth joining her. At the line, Espeseth benefitted from Bruckner’s final efforts for the stage win.
Into the men’s race, there was a mere 18 seconds separating race leader Wherry from the Navigators’ Burke Swindlehurst, with U-23 world time trial champion Danny Pate (Prime Alliance) another three seconds back. Although unlikely in a criterium, the time gaps were close enough that anything could happen.
As the Mercury team organized at the front, an immediate barrage of attacks put Wherry’s team on their heals from the gun. By the end of the third lap, a group had formed up the road, and as Mercury struggled to gain control, riders continued to jump across. The large group powered away, and were soon over 1/2 a lap ahead of the field.
A volley of attacks from the lead bunch set Navigators’ Chris Baldwin and Glen Mitchell free, with 7UP’s John Lieswyn, Saturn’s Fisher, and Prime Alliance’s John Peters. Baldwin was the top GC rider, 2:20 behind Wherry in 8th place, and the 5-man group quickly came together.
The break eventually lapped the field with roughly eight laps remaining. Immediately, the teams brought their riders who were in the break to the front right away to set them up for the sprint finish. With four laps to go Saturn took the front to deliver Fisher in the front position going into the last turn, holding off Baldwin for the win, with Peters taking third.
Although the top three GC positions remained unchanged, the result moved Baldwin from 8th to 5th, past Horner, Johnson, and teammate Leaper.
Carrera Volkswagen Old Mill District Criterium
1. Sandy Espeseth, Hutch’s;
2. Kim Bruckner, Saturn;
3. Nicole Demars, Hutch’s;
1. Kim Bruckner, Saturn;
2. Heather Albert, Goldy’s, @6:39;
3. Leah Goldstein, Hutch’s, @9:28;
1. Chris Fisher, Saturn;
2. Chris Baldwin, Navigators;
3. John Peters, Prime Alliance;
1. Chris Wherry, Mercury;
2. Burke Swindlehurst, Navigators, @ 0:18;
3. Danny Pate, Prime Alliance, @ 0:21;