The 29th annual Bend Memorial Clinic Cascade Cycling Classic, a 2.3-rated NRC stage race, will be held July 9-13, 2008. As their team was not invited to the Tour de France, Oregonian Chris Horner and his Astana teammate Levi Leipheimer will be taking on the best of the North American squads and teams in the 6 stages around Bend Oregon.
The 2007 winner Phil Zajicek then riding for the defunct Navigators’ team, will be counting on his new team Health Net-Maxxis, especially on NRC leader Rory Sutherland to bring home another win. Earlier this year, after years of problems, Zajicek was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and he should be back in full force after months of recovery.
The Bissell team have a few cards to play, Tour de Nez winner Aaron Olson who’s showing great form, Ben Jacques-Maynes who finished third last year, and Teddy King. Rock Racing is showing up with the strong duo of Cesar Grajales and Santiago Botero. Team Type 1 will be riding aggressively with their breakaway experts Chris Jones, who was top 20 last year riding solo, Glen Chadwick and climber Moises Aldape. Watch for BMC’s strong duo of Darren Lill, second at Mt Hood and Scott Nydam, last year’s KOM winner.
Toyota-United will be led by Chris Baldwin who was disappointed with his second place finish last year. Garmin/Chipotle is also showing up with a full squad led by David Zabriskie recovering after his injury and working on his form for the Olympics. Other teams and riders to watch include Successful Living’s Brad White and JR Grabinger, Colavita’s Tyler Wren, Symmetrics’ Cam Evans, and the ever aggressive CalGiant team. (Men’s roster here).
After having to cancel the women‘s race last year, due to scheduling conflicts, the event is back on the NRC women’s calendar, and all eyes will be on Kristin Armstrong (Cervelo-Lifeforce) who pretty much single-handedly won the Nature Valley Grand Prix a few weeks ago. Can she repeat this feat?
Hoping to stop her will be Mt Hood winner and just crowned U23 Canadian Champion Julie Beveridge and her Aaron’s teammates including Felicia Gomez. Tibco led by Amber Rais and Brooke Miller, Webcor with Christine Thornburg and Katheryn Mattis and ValueAct will all be looking for that top step. Riders to watch include youngster Coryn Rivera on Kahala-LaGrange who Armstrong took under her wings at Nature Valley. (Women’s roster here).
The stages. The first stage is the Robberson Ford-Prineville Road Race, an 83.2 mile (134 km) course that winds through canyons and over plateaus on there way to finish atop of the famous Pilot Butte State Park. In the 2007 version of the stage, Argentinian Ricardo Escuela (Successful Living) outsprinted Chris Baldwin (Toyota-United) and Phil Zajicek after the field caught a disintegrating break.
Thursday July 10 brings a modified stage to the race, the 78.5-mile (126 km) Three Creeks Road Race which follows nearly the same route as the former McKenzie Pass course but ends with a steeper and more decisive finish.
Friday July 11 is a double-stage day. Stage 3 in the morning is the 15-mile out and back Skyliners Time Trial. Last year, Zajicek set the fastest time in the TT with a climb in the middle, grabbed the leader’s jersey and never let go.
The sprinters come out and play in the late afternoon for stage 4, the popular six corners, flat and fast Criterium in the heart of downtown Bend.
Stage 5, the Cascade Lakes Road Race utilizes most of the same roads of past year’s events. Beautifully scenic with great road surfaces, riders will take the Cascade Lakes Highway up to Mt. Bachelor before turning south on Forest Service Roads that travel around Crane Prairie Reservoir Elk Lake and the infamous Sparks Lake climb before finishing at the Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort. The pro men will race over a 83-mile (134 km) course while the pro women ride 67 miles (108 km). (Women’s course profile here)
In 2007, Scott Nydam (BMC) clinched his KOM jersey by going on an early break to win the first KOM points. The duo was caught on the descent, and a trio of escapees, Roman Kilun (Health Net-Maxxis), Chuck Coyle (Successful Living) and Teddy King (Bissell) were off for the next 50 miles. With 5 miles to go, 3 chasers bridged up to King and Kilun but the group of 5 disintegrated almost immediately, and Kilun continued on his solo journey. He was soon passed by a select group of riders that included the yellow jersey Zajicek. BMC’s Jeff Louder (then riding for Health Net-Maxxis) won the sprint to the finish line.
The final stage on Sunday July 13 is the Deschutes Brewery-Awbrey Butte Circuit Race, that loops around Awbrey Butte. The pro men will do 5 laps for 83 miles (134 km) and the pro women 4 laps for 67 miles (108 km) total.