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By Mark Morical, Special to VeloNews
The Cascade Cycling Classic women’s race got off to a scary start on Thursday, as an early 20-rider pileup sent two racers to a local hospital.
“It was one of the worst sounds I’ve heard in a long time,” said Kristin Armstrong (T-Mobile), who won the 81.6-mile Cascade Lakes Road Race stage in a time of 3 hours, 40 minutes, 33 seconds.
Leah Goldstein (Trek-Red Truck Beer Racing) sustained hip, shoulder and arm injuries in the crash, according to race director Brad Ross. She and Cat Malone (Webcor) were both taken to St. Charles Medical Center-Bend.
“She’ll be in the hospital for a few days,” Ross said of Goldstein. Malone’s injuries were not serious, he said.
Goldstein, a Canadian who raced in the Olympics in 2004, was widely considered one of the strongest riders in the Cascade field.
The cause of the accident was unclear. It occurred about 15 miles into Thursday morning’s race, on a slight descent south of Devil’s Lake.
“I was right behind it and I saw bikes flying and girls flying,” said Kristin Danielson of Ford-Basis. “It was pretty scary. The dark side of racing.”
Afteward, the other riders slowed down to allow cyclists who were involved in the wreck a chance to get back in the peloton.
“We wanted to really neutralize the peloton so that everybody that could get back on, got back on,” Armstrong said. “So we had a slow start to the race.”
Thursday’s stage took riders past Mount Bachelor and onto the Cascade Lakes Highway. The course circled back for a final climb back up Mount Bachelor.
After the initial shock of the crash, things began picking up, and T-Mobile went on several attacks before the team’s Kori Seehafer went on a solo break at about the 55-mile mark and stayed out front until some 3km from the finish.
“I think everyone was tired and nobody went with her,” Armstrong said of Seehafer. “She did awesome. We caught her going up the climb at the last 5K. She had a 2:30 gap at one point. The hills out there are relentless. You think that you’re kind of going fine and it’s like never-ending climbs. She gave it her all.”
Armstrong and Erin Mirabella of Bicycle Johns eventually caught up to Seehafer, as did Danielson. Armstrong took a tight inside turn into the parking lot at Sunrise Lodge and made it to the finish line two seconds ahead of second-place Danielson and third-place Mirabella.
“I just hammered the last 200 meters,” Armstrong said.
Danielson tried in vain to stay with Armstrong at the end.
“When Kristin attacked, I tried to go with her. But she’s so strong, I couldn’t really,” Danielson said. “But I’m so excited, this is my best finish ever in a race.”
Cascade Cycling ClassicStage 1
1. Kristin Armstrong, T-Mobile, 81.6mi in 3 hours, 40 minutes, 33 seconds
2. Kristin Danielson, Ford-Basis, at 0:02
3. Erin Mirabella, Bicycle Johns, same time
4. Kimberly Baldwin, T-Mobile, at 0:14
5. Kerry Martin, Sunnyside Sports, at 0:52
6. Kori Seehafer, T-Mobile, s.t.
7. Mandy Lozano, BMW-Bianchi, s.t.
8. Mari Holden, T-Mobile, s.t.
9. Jennifer Chapman, Velo Bella, s.t.
10. Katie Mactier, T-Mobile, s.t.