UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis rider Marc de Maar may have inherited the Indie Hops Mt. Hood Cycling Classic race leader’s jersey in an undesirable fashion on Thursday’s stage 2 road race, but the Dutch rider established himself as the strongest man at the race Friday during a windy 18.5-mile time trial.
After taking the top spot on GC when his teammate Morgan Schmitt was penalized 20 seconds for drafting back from a puncture, de Maar came out swinging Friday morning. Pushing into a mix of cross- and headwinds, De Maar’s time of 44:06 was 14 seconds faster than 2009 overall winner Paul Mach (Bissell), who finished second.
“It was a hard time trial,” de Maar said. “I never felt really good, I was always suffering. Normally on a flat time trial you can get into a rhythm. But here it was all up or down, and even when it was down there were headwinds. I was suffering a lot.”
Riding without team support, Team Type 1’s Mike Creed finished third on the stage, 36 seconds off de Maar’s time; Creed now sits fourth on GC, 44 seconds down.
“It was a little bit of crosswind, but mostly headwind.” Creed said. I think it’s the best time trial course in America. It’s point-to-point, it has a switchback climb, a valley… a little bit of everything. It’s one of the most technical, one of the hardest. It’s a sweet TT course.”
Hagens Berman rider Sam Johnson finished fourth on the TT, 39 seconds behind de Maar, and now sits third overall, 42 seconds back. Schmitt finished the stage eighth, 1:35 back, and now sits seventh overall.
Last year’s overall runner-up Chris Baldwin finished 54th, 4:17 down after a mechanical problem left his rear disc wheel rubbing his frame. It was a major disappointment for the national TT champion, who won this stage one year ago in his first race for OUCH-Maxxis after jumping ship from Rock Racing.
“It sucks, but that’s how it goes,” Baldwin said. “Anyhow, Marc is riding better than I am right now, so he’s our best shot at the GC win.”
While de Maar and Mach are poised to battle for the overall win, Creed admitted he had no major goals coming to Mt. Hood without a team. “I really don’t have an objective,” he said. “It’s better than sitting at the house. I’d rather race than just train. I’m just here to race my bike and see what happens.”
Asked why he was racing at Mt. Hood while the rest of his Team Type 1 squad was racing the Philadelphia International Championship, Creed said team director Vassili Davidenko or team manager Phil Southerland would better answer that question.
Mach and de Maar started the day tied on GC, meaning Mach will start Saturday’s stage 4 road race 14 seconds back, the same difference as on Friday’s TT stage.
“There was more crosswind than last year,” Mach said of the time trial. “Last year was block headwind, just kind of grind away, today you had to keep your eyes open or one of the crazy gusts could blow you off the road.”
Asked about his form compared to in 2009 when he won the overall, Mach said, “I was surprised I am doing so well. After the Tour of California I was beat. But I rested up, and I guess I am doing okay. I’d say my form is pretty similar to last year. I think after the Tour of California it’s safe to say de Maar is clearly a good rider. It’s no surprise he’s doing well here.”
Mach’s situation is a near mirror-reversal of one year ago, when he held a 13-second lead heading into the Wy’East Road Race, which features a 35-mile grind up 4500 feet of elevation to the Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort for the finish. Though it’s a long climb, its highway gradient makes it tough to open gaps, particularly if it’s windy.
“Last year the situation was a bit reversed with Baldwin sitting 13 seconds down on me, and he was having a hard time (on the climb),” Mach said. “Now the situation is turned around. We’ll race and see what happens.”
De Maar said he was confident his UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis team is the strongest in the race. “Today we started with three in the top five,” he said. “We lost Chris (on the GC) because of some problems with his bike, but we’re going to kick ass again tomorrow.”
1. Marc Demaar (USA) Unitedhealthcare Presented By Maxxis, 44:20.2
2. Paul Mach (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling at 0:14
3. Michael Creed (USA) Team Type 1 at 0:36
4. Sam Johnson (USA) Hagens Berman Cycling at 0:39
5. Nathaniel English (USA) Echelon Gran Fondo/z-Team at 1:01
6. Jesse Moore (CAN) California Giant Berry Farms/specialized at 1:02
7. Kevin Rowe (USA) Team Exergy at 1:30
8. Morgan Schmitt (USA) Unitedhealthcare Presented By Maxxis at 1:35
9. Adam Switters (USA) Yahoo! Cycling Team at 1:41
10. Robert Britton (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling at 1:46
1. Demaar Marc (USA) Unitedhealthcare Presented By Maxxis, 6:43:14
2. Mach Paul (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling at 0:14
3. Johnson Sam (USA) Hagens Berman Cycling at 0:42
4. Creed Michael (USA) Team Type 1 at 0:44
5. English Nathaniel (USA) Echelon Gran Fondo/z-Team at 1:10
6. Moore Jesse (CAN) California Giant Berry Farms/specialized at 1:20
7. Schmitt Morgan (USA) Unitedhealthcare Presented By Maxxis at 1:47
8. Britton Robert (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling at 1:57
9. Switters Adam (USA) Yahoo! Cycling Team at 1:59
10. Hamilton Nic (CAN) Trek Red Truck at 2:03