The first climbing stage at Mt Hood shuffled the general classification as expected but with no big time gaps, the race is still wide open for the contenders.
The women started off extremely slow in the first of the 3.5 loops of the 18.7-mile circuit, and well it was boring in the caravan. Finally, after 17 miles or so, Helen Kelly (Tibco) broke away and got one minute on the field. Three riders, Rebecca Larson (Aaron’s), Kristin McGrath (Colavita/Sutter-Home) and Alison Shanks (Jazz Apple) bridged up to her, and the break was off with the Cheerwine-led field chasing. After Kelly dropped from the break, the trio was caught in the final lap by the field getting ready for the final uphill sprint.
Aaron’s at the front of the field after the break was caught
The eternal Jeannie Longo put in a few attacks on the false flat and then came to the front and set a high tempo. Prologue winner Joanne Kiesanowski (Tibco) covered every move and outsprinted Longo and Felicia Gomez (Aaron’s) to take the win and the yellow leader’s jersey. Canadians Julie Beverdige and Felicia Gomez, both of Aaron’s round off the top 3 on GC with Longo a close fourth.
Kiesanowski wins the uphill sprint
“Just coming up the last time up the climb, there were lots of attacks, I was pretty much following making sure that I was always in the front selection, just riding top 5 all the way up the climb, just making sure that I was always make the front selection. Longo did an amazingly long leadout, she was extremely strong, I just managed to come around her. ” said Kiesanowski .
Longo made it clear in today’s stage that she came to race and is interested in the overall win.
As in previous years, a break launched from the men’s peloton on the first lap, and included Andy Bajadali (Kelly Benefit/Medifast), JR Grabinger (Successful Living), Chris Wherry (Toyota-United), Burke Swindlehurst (Bissell), Neil Shirley (Jittery Joe’s), Oregonians Ryan Trebon (Kona) and Doug Ollerenshaw (Rock Racing), U23 National Champion Max Jenkins (Cal Giant) and two Health Net-Maxxis riders Matt Cooke and Best Young Rider Matt Crane.
Unfortunately, with some riders such as Swindlehurst, Crane and Cooke under orders to sit and not work, the break was doomed from the beginning. The complete Bissell came to the front of the field, leading the chase keeping the gap to less than three minutes trying to keep Ben Jacques-Maynes in contention for the final yellow jersey. GC leader Hilton Clarke and his Toyota-United team were content to sit behind the red train.
Andy Bajadali (Kelly Benefit/Medifast) announced his KOM ambition by sprinting for the points
With the field together, in a perfectly timed attack with 1k to go Darren Lill (BMC) got a gap, put his head and sprinted to the line. On his heels were Rory Sutherland (Health Net-Maxxis) and Chris Meier (Symmetrics) – oh and the com3 car.
“I saved everything for the final kilometer, and I knew that it was probably the steepest pitch of the whole climb, none of the climbs are really all that steep, the guys are obviously at their most tired, it just flattens out with 200 meters to go and I thought if I could just get over the crest with 200, 250 meters to go with a bit of a gap, I should be able to hold on for the win, I just put my head and prayed like mad, I thought my legs were going to fall off at the end but managed to hold on.” said Lill.
Lill took over the GC ahead of Sutherland and Jacques-Maynes with only 6 seconds separating the 3 men before the time trial and the queen stage.
Unseasonable warm temperatures made the 85 miles in the saddle, tougher than expected for some riders riders.
“It was a hard day, it’s one of those races which is only 85 miles which doesn’t so much especially with the descent in it, but it was definitely a lot harder than some teams might have expected. Consistently on the pedals, even on the descent you have to pedal down, there’s a crosswind, I think it was pretty hard, definitely a hard stage you could see that by the … it’s not a real climb coming into the finish and it comes in by drips and drabs.” said Sutherland.
The contenders came out strong in today’s stage, Lill, Sutherland, Jacques-Maynes and maybe Meier.
Apologies for delay in posting reports; multiple and unexpected issues to be dealt with during the race.