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Irked Creed boycotts press over time penalty
By Neal Rogers
The overall classification underwent a minor reshuffling Friday at the Columbia River Bank Cascade Cycling Classic, after a rolling 6.6-mile time trial showed who the strongest players at the race truly are.
In the women’s race it was recently-crowned national time trial champion Christine Thorburn (Webcor Builders) again disproving the on-paper dominance of the heavily favored T-Mobile squad, winning by two seconds over soon-to-be Olympic teammate Kristin Armstrong of T-Mobile. In third place was defending Cascade champion Lyne Bessette (Quark), nine seconds down.
T-Mobile’s Lynn Gaggioli, Kimberly Bruckner and Amber Neben took fourth through sixth places, at 0:10, 0:20 and 0:57 seconds back. However, Gaggioli and Bruckner both received 10-second time penalties for crossing the centerline on a fast right-hand turn coming into the finish, adding further distance between them and Thorburn. In all, more than a dozen riders were penalized across the women’s and men’s fields.
“They seemed to have a guy just sitting [on the course] on a rock, waiting for riders to inch over the line,” Bruckner said.
Race commissaire Sean Weide said that “the majority of the riders” were able to negotiate the corner legally. “We had both flagrant and incidental violations,” he added, “and either way they were docked 10 seconds.”
Following the time trial, Thorburn holds a 28-second lead over Bessette, with Gaggioli in third at 29 seconds and Bruckner fourth at 52 seconds; Armstrong sits fifth, at 58 seconds. With five riders within one minute heading into Friday evening’s twilight criterium, the finishing 15, 10 and five-second time bonuses will be heavily contested.
Navigators duo outpaces Horner
In the men’s race it was Bruckner’s husband, 2003 national time trial champion Chris Baldwin (Navigators Insurance) winning by two seconds ahead of teammate Viktor Rapinski. Local favorite Chris Horner (Webcor Builders) finished third, 14 seconds of Baldwin’s pace, with Svein Tuft (Symmetrics) fourth, 25 seconds back.
“Baldwin said it was the best time trial he’d ever ridden in his life,” said Navigators team director Ed Beamon.
Race leader Mike Creed (U.S. Postal Service-Berry Floor) took fifth on the stage, 34 seconds down but 29 seconds ahead of second-placed Mike Sayers (Health Net-Maxxis). Creed’s other breakaway companion from Thursday’s winning move, Jeff Louder of Navigators, finished three seconds behind the race leader, bringing him to within 45 seconds of the Postal rider. The fourth-placed rider, Gord Fraser, is 2:40 down on GC, with Webcor’s John Kelley fifth at 2:46.
Creed, who was penalized 30 seconds following Thursday’s stage for attacking left of the centerline, refused to speak with the media following the time trial. “It may not be much, but I’m not going to speak with the media until the race officials reverse the time penalty,” Creed said. “It’s ridiculous. Even if I win the overall, I have nothing else to say.”
Race officials said the penalty would stand.
“The problem is, once one rider is getting away with attacking over the centerline, everyone is going to start doing it,” said commissaire David Leahy. “Then ODOT [the Oregon Department of Transportation] sees it and pulls the race permits. In the end, the state of Oregon is liable if a rider gets hit by an oncoming vehicle.”
Horner, who sits 10th overall at 5:29 down, predicted that the race leadership might change following the evening time trial, and if not, then on Saturday’s tough Tumalo circuit race.
Noting that Creed has only three teammates – Antonio Cruz, Damon Kluck and Pat McCarty – Horner added: “They’re three good guys, but three guys is three guys. Creed’s not going to be able to ride on the front himself. [On Saturday’s stage] there’s going to be a break that gets away and it’s going to have someone that’s four minutes down on GC, and they’re going to have a legitimate shot at winning this race.
“If Postal is smart, they’ll let a break go that has four or five guys, and the best guy is five minutes down, but I don’t think that will be the case. I think the best placed guy will be three or four minutes down, and Postal is going to have to fan that gap all the way to the finish with three guys.”