Powers on top. Team VBF’s Alison Powers won the Bend Memorial Clinic Cascade Cycling Classic prologue last night with a time of 3:53, five seconds faster than Tara Whitten (Keller Rohback). TIBCO/To The Top’s Alison Starnes was 3rd. Powers used her time trial expertise and savvy cornering skills to blaze through the 2-mile prologue course, which featured several tight twists and turns along the Deschutes River in Bend’s Old Mill District.
“I’ve been training for this type of effort and it definitely paid off,” said Powers. “It was a really fun course and I’m so excited to win tonight!”
Under warm, sunny skies, 107 women took to the streets of Bend this evening to do battle in the short, but violent effort. Jade Wilcoxson (Vuelta/Flywheel) had the fastest time early on with a time of 4:04, followed closely by Megan Guarnier (TIBCO) and Rushlee Buchanan (Colavita/Baci). But then it was World Champion Pursuit rider Whitten, who blazed the course in 3:58, just as Powers was on the start line. Powers was the second to last rider off and was aware of the times that were being posted. Starnes was the last rider to go off and was the third and final rider to go under 4 minutes.
Starnes showed that she still has the form she gained from racing the women’s Giro d’Italia earlier this month. “It was a relatively flat course with a lot of fast corners,” she said, “and the wind made the flats a bit harder. But we showed we have a strong team here.”
Powers, who currently sits in second place in the NRC standings, had a lot of motivation coming into this race. “After losing the top spot to Cath (Cheatley) after Fitchburg, I was super excited to come here and do well,” stated Powers. “I think losing the NRC lead has just made me more hungry to win. And we have a really strong team here and any one of the us can get on the podium. We’re in a great position.” The Team is currently the number one ranked team in the NRC standings.
Buchanan finished 10th at 12 seconds down and leads the Best Young Rider classification.
Because of the shortness of the course, the time gaps for the top finishers were relatively small, meaning this is still very much a wide-open race. A total of 66 riders were separated by 30 seconds.
“We have a lot of cards to play,” TIBCO/To The Top’s Meredith Miller said. “Tomorrow should show who’s going well.” Miller finished 9 seconds down and is one of four TIBCO riders in the top 10.
Tomorrow marks the return of the infamous McKenzie Pass Road Race, a 74-mile point to point stage featuring the 18 mile ascent up McKenzie Pass, as well as final 10K climb to Three Creeks Sno Park in Sisters. (See cheat sheet for map)
“There will be a lot of changes after tomorrow’s stage,” commented team director, Lisa Hunt. “The McKenzie climb is long but not steep. It’s the final climb to Three Creeks where I think you’ll see a lot of action.”
“Mara (Abbott, Peanut Butter & CO TWENTY12) is still the biggest threat,” Miller said of the rider who won the Giro as Starnes’ U.S. national team teammate. “She’s probably the best climber here. We’ll definitely keep an eye on her. This is a very hilly stage race. Almost every day is a good day for her. We’ll have our hands full. We’ll have to race smart and aggressively, get in breaks and keep the pressure on her.”
Abbott sits at 28 seconds down and is poised to pounce as soon as the roads go up.
Trek-Livestrong goes 1-2. Showing that his time trial win at the SRAM Tour of the Gila earlier this year was no fluke, Kiwi Jesse Sergent clocked the fastest time of 3:35.78 over the same distance as the women to win the prologue. His teammate, Alex Dowsett, who just won the U23 European Time Trial Championships, finished a close second with less than 2 hundreds of a second separating the teammates. Sergent (and Dowsett) averaged a speed of 33.49 mph (53.89 kmph) over the one-mile out-and-back course along the Deschutes River.
Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis) came in third at 1 second down. Sergent also leads the Best Young Rider classification.
The time gaps are also very tight in the men’s race with 124 riders separated by 20 seconds.
“I think Rory also finished within a second of being outside the top 10,” said UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis Team Directeur Sportif Gord Fraser. “The gaps are so small among the top guys it’s almost like tomorrow is the first stage.”
Wednesday’s Mackenzie Pass Road Race should serve to spread out the gaps. The 74-mile course includes over 7,000 feet of climbing, including a 10-mile finishing climb up to the Three Creeks Snow Park. (See cheat sheet for map)
Top 10 Men Prologue Results (Complete results)
1. Jesse H Sergent* (Trek-LIVESTRONG) 0:03:35.789
2. Alex Dowsett* (Trek-LIVESTRONG) +0:00:00
3. Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling) +0:00:01
4. Taylor Sheldon* (Holowesko Partners) +0:00:02
5. David Tanner (Fly V Australia) +0:00:03
6. Aoron Kemps (Fly V Australia) +0:00:03
7. Ben Jacques-Maynes (BISSELL Pro Cycling) +0:00:03
8. Frank Pipp (BISSELL Pro Cycling) +0:00:04
9. Andy Jacques-Maynes (BISSELL Pro Cycling) +0:00:04
10. Shawn Milne (Team Type 1) +0:00:04
Top 10 Women Prologue Results (Complete results)
1. Alison Powers (Team Vera Bradley Foundation) 0:03:53.470
2. Tara Whitten (Keller Rorhback Cycling Team) +0:00:05
3. Alison Starnes (Team TIBCO) +0:00:06
4. Cath Cheatley (Colavita/Baci Pro Cycling) +0:00:08
5. Meredith Miller (Team TIBCO) +0:00:09
6. Joanne Kiesanowski (Team TIBCO) +0:00:10
7. Alison K Shanks (Bike NZ) +0:00:11
8. Jade Wilcoxson (Vuelta/Flywheel) +0:00:11
9. Megan Guarnier (Team TIBCO) +0:00:11
10. Rushlee Buchanan* (Colavita/Baci Pro Cycling) +0:00:12