Four of the top six in both the pro men’s and pro women’s races are track specialist or are using the track to help in their training. And no wonder, the riders faced a pancake-flat 1.7 mile course running through the downtown streets of Portland, in an out and back course alongside the Tom McCall River Front Park. The only difficulty was the turn around on wet roads as rain came down all day in Portland and stopped just before the women started at 4pm.
Points race specialist, Joanne Kiesanowski, on her second race with her new team Tibco, won the prologue in downtown Portland with a time of 3:08 average a speed of 32. m/hr (52. k/hr). Pursuit specialist Alison Shanks (Jazz Apple) came in second with less than a second behind the winner. The two women, both from New Zealand, are using the races in North America to refine their form before the Olympics warm ups.
“I rode the course a lot of times before, I just went around and around it. I just knew that I had to have a good turn around, it was important not to lose too much time around there, just went hard.” said Kiesanowski.
Rounding off the podium is Dotsie Bausch (Colavita/Sutter Home), also not a stranger to the track, as she has just returned – the day before – from the Pan American Championships with a gold medal in the Women’s 3000 meter Individual Pursuit.
Returning champion Leah Goldstein (ValueAct) was joking before the race that she just wanted to finish in the top 50 as a short, flat prologue is not her strong point. She finished in 14th position, seven seconds behind the leader, and just ahead of French powerhouse Jeannie Longo. Climber Felicia Gomez (Aaron’s) put in a great result, finishing just 2 seconds behind. In preparation for this Olympic year, Felicia had been working on her time trial position and it’s showing.
On the men’s side, a huge field of 244 riders were ready for their race of truth with the first rider starting at 6pm. The 175th rider Jonathan Garcia (BMC) set a fast time of 2:48.700 which stood at the fastest time until powerhouse Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell), the third to last rider to leave the start gate, put in a 3 seconds faster ride.
“I found the biggest gear I could and muscled it all the way into the line.” said BJM. After Tour of the Gila, where he helped his teammate Burke Swindlehurst finish second overall, BJM came home and got in some practice on the track. “I went to the track on Friday, I was working on my 5k efforts, I did a couple of miss and outs, scratch races, perfect. Hit the power, leave it on and see what happens.”
In third place, was Ivan Stevic (Toyota-United) happy to be back to racing after working on knee problems for the past 6 (or was it 9) months.
Joe Martin winner and current NRC leader, Rory Sutherland (Health Net-Maxxis) finished five seconds behind BJM. Sutherland flew in from Arkansas on Sunday.
The race is still wide open, and most protagonists think that the Time Trial and the Wy’East stages will be decisive. However, today’s stage, the Mt Tabor Criterium is reputed to be much tougher than it looks on paper. The women will race for 60 minutes and the men 90 minutes over extremely winding course with nearly 135 feet of elevation for every 1.3 mile lap.
Women’s Prologue Race Report, Men’s Prologue Race Report