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Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder stage 1: Sofia Gomez Villafañe and Christopher Blevins win

Gomez Villafañe handily wins the women's race while Christopher Blevins outsprints Pete Stetina to take the stage.

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The Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder is a five-day stage race in the Cascade Mountains near Bend, Oregon. Each day a pro cyclist will be reporting to VeloNews from within the event. 

The first day of the Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder stage race began with a bang.

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The Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder is also fondly known as ‘gravel camp.’ Giddy with anticipation, ‘campers’ line up on day 1. (Photo: Adam Lapierre)

Some 160 riders set off on the first day of their multi-day journey through the Cascades, riding 65 miles and taking in over 5,200 feet of climbing.

Climbing out of Sisters, Oregon, riders made their way up and over the Cascade Range along the old Santiam Wagon Road. The road is a highlight of the race, tucked into a landscape of decomposing lava rock and presenting miles of frustratingly deep sand.

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Sarah Sturm powers up the loose and dusty Wagon Road. (Photo: Adam Lapierre)

After dropping into the McKenzie River canyon, riders climbed up again to witness the dramatic views of the snow-capped volcanoes of the Cascades.

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Snow-capped volcanoes abut the course in every direction. (Photo: Adam Lapierre)

In yet another ecological twist, the final miles of the stage rewarded finishers with a lush forest descent that included a few sneaker climbs on roads soggy from recent snowmelt.

In the women’s race, Sofia Gomez Villafañe continued to show her phenomenal form as she separated herself from the rest of the women’s field throughout the day. Sarah Sturm and Sarah Max followed in hot pursuit.

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Gomez Villafañe in her groove. (Photo: Wil Matthews)

Coming off the lava section, Sturm took advantage of a small mistake by Max and created and held a gap to the finish line. Caroline Dezendorf, Ellen Campbell, and Max had a three-way sprint for third, finishing 3,4,5 respectively.

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Blevins, Stetina, and Grotts would form the winning trio on the day. (Photo: Wil Matthews)

Short-track world champion Christopher Blevins outsprinted Pete Stetina for the win in the men’s race. Howard Grotts followed in third. Insiders say Stetina had some skills in the sand trap section at the top of the big climb and put the hurt on his competitors, narrowing the field to the top few male riders.

Tomorrow’s “moderate” stage 2 takes riders from Blue River to the mountain bike mecca of Oakridge. The stage is 61.6 miles with 5,970 feet of climbing.

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Margs anyone? (Photo: Wil Matthews)

Stage 1 full results can be found here.

Serena Bishop Gordon races gravel and XC MTB for Liv Factory Racing. She is also the founder of the Special Blend Gravel camp. She lives in Bend, Oregon.