Kristin Armstrong (Cervelo-Lifeforce) won Stage 5, her fourth stage victory at the Cascade Cycling Classic. As in her previous wins, Armstrong launched her attack in the final climb, caught and passed the solo break rider for the win. The Aaron’s duo of Julie Beveridge and Felicia Gomez came in second and third.
Armstrong is using the race in her final preparations for the Olympic Games and was interviewed by the Bend Bulletin after her win, and she talks about the beauty of the terrain and “Cascade Classic is one of my favorite races, it has been for sometime.”
After the race, Armstrong will return home for about one week of recovery and then will have two more weeks to do some fine tuning before flying off to China, with one thing in mind, winning at the Olympic Games. “It’s been my goal for the last four years.”
Stage 5, the Cascade Lakes Road Race, featured a 67 miles (108 km) loop that started off immediately with an uphill climb, followed by 15 miles (24 km) of descending, and then race around Crane Prairie Reservoir Elk Lake and finishing with the 10-mile (16k) Sparks Lake climb ending at the Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort.
“Our goal was to get a break going early in the race and to make Kristin Armstrong work hard to keep that yellow jersey,” stated ValueAct director Lisa Hunt aka The Huntress.
The pace was high on the first climb, and the field began to splinter, but it was gruppo compatto in the descent, and attacks were launched but Armstrong didn’t like the composition or the sheer number of riders of the breaks and didn’t let anything go. The extremely strong Armstrong is riding with no teammates and controlled the front of the field by herself.
Finally, Tibco’s Rushlee Bachanan set off on a solo break that lasted for almost 30 miles (48 km) and gained almost 5 minutes on the field by the time she hit the bottom of the climb.
Then Armstrong attacked. And no one was able to match her acceleration, but the fight was on for the other podium spots, and a group of 4 riders separated themselves from the field, Beveridge, Gomez and Webcor’s Christine Thorburn and Katheryn Mattis.
With 1.2 mile (2 k) to go, Armstrong caught up and passed the lone Buchanan, and the classy rider told the New Zealander to get on her wheel but Buchanan couldn’t. One by one, other riders would pass Buchanan who finished in twentieth spot over two minutes behind the winner.
Beveridge made her move to gain some time on Thorburn in the GC and crossed the finish line 30 seconds behind Armstrong. Gomez was third, 45 seconds later with Mattis and Thorburn was fifth, a further 5 seconds back.
Armstrong increased her lead in the overall classification with a sizable 2:55 over second place Thorburn and 3:34 ahead of Beveridge. No surprises that Armstrong also leads the QOM competition, Beveridge still wears the white jersey for the Best Young Rider and the Webcor squad leads the team classification.
Like the other two previous road race stages, a break made it to the finish of 83-mile (133.5 km) stage.
Aldape outsprinted his five breakmates in the final few hundred meters at the Mount Bachelor Ski Resort. Chad Beyer (USA) was second and Brad White (Successful Living) rounded off the podium.
Leader Levi Leipheimer (Astana) came under pressure when a break of 12 riders went up the road at about the 25 mile (40 km) mark, after the first climb. Joining Aldape, Beyer and White in the break were Toyota-United duo of Dominique Rollin and Caleb Manion, BMC duo of Ian Mckissick and Brent Bookwalter, Tim Johnson (Health Net-Maxxis), Blake Caldwell (Garmin-Chipotle), Brian Jensen (Successful Living), Jeremy Vennell (Bissell) and James Mattis (Cal Giant). Caldwell was the best placed rider at 4:05 behind Leipheimer.
The BMC duo was setting a high pace in the break. “As I was tied with Blake Caldwell on time, the main objective was not to let him get away and grab any more time on me,” Bookwalter explained. “We wanted to enter the climb with as much time as possible on the main bunch, so Ian drove it really hard to the base and up the first part of the climb.”
Horner came to the front of the field to set up the chase, and with help from the Cal Giant team, he kept the gap to around 2 minutes before the final ascent (yep Cal Giant did have a man in the break).
With 6miles (10 k) to go, Caldwell launched an attack that gained him 20 seconds on the breakaway, which was down to eight riders. Aldape’s DS Ed Beamon was telling him to go but he chose to wait and was confident he could use the terrain to his advantage in the final meters.
“When Caldwell attacked, Ed told me to ‘go, go, go,’ but I felt confident I could jump across,” Aldape said. “So I just waited. I was counting on a little difficulty in the terrain in the last kilometer. As long as I could see him (Caldwell) ahead of me in the last 500 meters, I was confident I could win.”
Aldape went flying by with with about 150 meters to go to win the stage. He dedicated his victory to teammate Ben Brooks, who was critically injured Wednesday in a high-speed crash.
Meanwhile back in the peloton, after Horner and his Cal Giant allies set a high pace, Leipheimer took over and BMC’s Darren Lill attacked.
“Levi and I worked together pretty well, though I may have gone a bit too deep with my attack, and Levi ended up doing maybe two-thirds of the work while I was doing my best to contribute one-third!” Lill confessed.
The duo caught some of the break remnants and Leipheimer ninth at one minute and Lill was eleventh at 1:03 from the stage winner.
In the overall classification, Leipheimer increased his lead and BMC’s Jeff Louder moved up to second spot at 2:30 back, and Lill is now in third place at 2:33. Chris Baldwin (Toyota-United) and Matt Wilson (Team Type 1) retained their fourth and fifth places, respectively. Tom Zirbel (Bissell) could not follow the accelerations and dropped down to eighth place from his second spot.
Aldape also picked the KOM jersey, Peter Stetina (Garmin-Chipotle) still leads the Best Young Rider competition and the Garmen still lead the Best Team classification.
While Leipheimer has this race sewn up, it’s still a battle for the second and third spots on the overall GC for the final stage, 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.
Full results here.