By Kathie Reid
Though she’s only 16 years old and still racing junior gears (52×14 top gear), Coryn Rivera (Proman Hit Squad) emerged from a bunch sprint just ahead of Tina Pic (Colavita-Sutter Home) and Kirsty Broun (Team Lip Smacker) to take the stage 5 criterium in downtown Bend Saturday night.
There was no change in GC, as Evelyn Stevens (Webcor Builders) still has the lead, followed by Amber Rais (Team Tibco) and Alison Powers (Team Type 1).
In the men’s race, Ivan Dominguez (Rock Racing) took his first sprint win since returning to the United States from racing the early season in Europe. He shot across the line in a bunch sprint just ahead of Alejandro Borrajo (Colavita-Sutter Home) and Andrew Pinfold (OUCH-Maxxis). There was no change in the men’s GC either, with Oscar Sevilla (Rock Racing) staying secure in yellow, Jeff Louder (BMC) in second, and Francisco Mancebo (Rock Racing) in third.
The Downtown Criterium has traditionally attracted large crowds, and the 30th edition of Cascade was no exception. Fans were lined up all along the four-corner course at least two- to four-thick, and saw plenty of action right from the start of the women’s 50-minute race.
The women of Webcor Builders, Colavita, ValueAct Capital, Team Tibco, Team Lip Smacker, and Team Type 1 were throwing off attacks from the start, with racers taking turns getting seconds off the front for primes and sprint points, and then being reeled back in.
With speeds averaging around 27 miles per hour, there were never any significant breaks, and the race came down to a mass bunch sprint. In the previous four stages, it’s been Stevens who has surprised everyone, but Saturday, it was Rivera who stunned even her team director, Nicola Cranmer.
Asked what her first thought was upon seeing Rivera fly by, Cranmer said with a laugh, “I can’t say! I was swearing!” She went on, “Honestly, she is an amazing athlete. She was so focused before the race … She goes around the course before the race. She analyzes the turns, she analyzes the sprint … She analyzes every competitor. She knows what wheels to follow … She’s such a smart rider. She’s not necessarily one of the most physically gifted, but she’s the smartest.”
Rivera is no stranger to winning races, as she holds 23 junior national champion jerseys in road, cyclocross, and track, won two races in Europe earlier this season while racing with the US Junior National Team, is coming off of two big crit wins in California (the Manhattan Grand Prix and the San Rafael Twilight Criterium), and is headed to Junior Worlds right after the USA National Road Cycling Championships next week.
She has learned to read a race, and showed that in her first NRC win. “I came out of the last corner really, really far, but it’s this long straightaway, so I just stayed patient,” she said. “I saw Kirsty Broun come around right, and I just held her wheel … I came around her on the left hand side … and no one came around me.”
Though Broun came into the stage tied with Pic for the sprint jersey, her main goal was the stage win. “In the last laps, the pace was pretty high. Tibco was attacking regularly, and we were trying to chase them down, and Webcor was defending the yellow jersey, so they were trying not to let any breaks go as well. I was just kind of following wheels on my team, and my team was really working well with me and looking after me,” she said.
“Coming around the last bend, one of my team members (Anne Samplonius) took me up, and with about 350 to go, she attacked and I followed her wheel. Unfortunately we hit it too early, and we led the other two girls (Rivera and Pic) out. They came around me with about 10 meters to go because I was kind of cooked by that point. I was just burying my head and hoping the finish line was coming up really quick, and unfortunately it just didn’t come up quick enough.”
Pic said she thought teammate Kelly Benjamin was set up for the winning sprint on the backside. “I kinda thought Kelly would go for it instead, but she just chased for so long,” she said. “When Kat Carroll (Team Tibco) went, Tibco had it lined up … so Kelly went around to chase it, and they actually had a gap. Lip Smacker was behind them, and I had got a bit boxed from the back, so I came around the (final) corner in about eighth, behind Coryn. She just jumped around everyone, and I just followed her.”
Pic complimented Rivera on her skills. “I think her biggest strength is her tactics. It seems like she has a lot of experience racing, and she really holds position well, which is really good. I think she’s gonna be good. She already is!”
Having stayed in the bunch and safely in yellow, Stevens was happy with the night’s results. She said that, though getting a stage win for teammate and sprinter Gina Grain would have been ideal, the main goal was to keep the yellow jersey. “I stayed upright, stayed in,” she said. “The team did a ton of work up there. It was a very fast crit, and they did a great job keeping me up there.”
Almost … but no cigar
Initial attacks came fast and fierce in the men’s 90-minute race, too, where the average speed around the .8-mile course was 29.5 miles per hour. In lap 6, though, Jackson Stewart (BMC) and Mike Creed (Team Type 1) initiated a break that, when joined by Kirk Carlsen (Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin) and Russ Langley (Battley Harley-Davidson) in lap 14, gained 57 seconds by lap 34 and was only reeled in when just one lap remained.
Creed has become a familiar face in breakaways at Cascade; he was in a break of four riders for more than 25 miles on stage 2, and in a break of seven for 60 miles on stage 4. “The last two times I have been in breaks were pretty much on purpose,” he said. “I’ve felt good this entire race, and the courses are good for me. I’m really motivated to race my bike. There’s nothing more than that motivating me.”
Of the breakaway in the crit, however, he said, “Today wasn’t so much on purpose. I was just attacking to keep the racing going. I never thought it was going to work. Then when I turned around and saw a huge gap, it was a big surprise.”
Back in the field, the men of Sevilla’s Rock Racing were often on the front, but Sevilla said that it was not important to bring the break back because there was no one in it who could affect GC. He said they were lucky that OUCH came to the front to do the work of reeling the break in with about 30 minutes to go in the race; they knew when that happened that they had a chance to help Dominguez win the stage. He felt good about this since Dominguez had been helping him the last few days, even in the climbs.
Dominguez concurred. “I said to the guys, keep the break there, we have to take care of the jersey. Tomorrow’s another day. We don’t need to kill it. And then the guys from OUCH came, and they started going. That was good for us. I was not even planning on going for the sprint because the break was strong.”
Dominguez, who won this stage two years ago, said the long sprint afforded by the course suited him. “I knew if I went with 300 meters to go, no one was going to pass. It was great.”
Though Pinfold’s team was in control of the field, he said the last couple corners were kind of hectic. “I kind of got squeezed out by Colavita guys,” he said. “Nothing dirty, they were just there, and I got pinched out a bit and I lost Dominguez’s wheel … Dominguez jumped, he was closer to the front than I was, then Borrajo went, and kind of teed into Dominguez, but lost it, and then I went around (Colavita’s Sebastian) Haedo.”