Thursday was Ben Day at the Cascade Classic as the Fly V Australia rider won the stage 2 Skyliners Time Trial in Bend, Oregon. Day clocked a time of 31:28 to top Jesse Sergent (Trek-Livestrong) and Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis). Sutherland maintained his overall lead by 16 and 57 seconds over Day and his teammate Darren Lill, respectively.
Erinne Willock (Webcor Builders) flashed the fastest women’s time Thursday in 35:56. Mara Abbott (Peanut Butter & Co.-Twenty12) finished second, nine seconds back, and Alison Powers (Vera Bradley Foundation) clocked in in 36:40 for third. Abbott took the overall lead from Cath Cheatley (Colavita-Baci), who outkicked her in the stage one summit finish at Three Creeks Snow Park.
The 16-mile, out-and-back Skyliners course is a consistent affair – gradually uphill almost all the way to the turnaround and gradually downhill back. A series of 90-degree turns took riders onto and off of the main drag at the start and finish, and the densely forested roadside kept sightlines low for the majority of the course.
“It’s a tough little time trial course to really gauge correctly and you really need to leave everything out there about at the turnaround point and really just hold on for dear life,” said Day.
A win each for the Aussies, Kiwis and Dutch
Taylor Gunman (Rubicon-Orbea) set the early fast time and held the lead for 20 minutes before Walker Savidge (Holowesko Partners) assumed the lead with a 32:50. The U23, more frequently seen in the early breakaway than a TT hot seat, held the top position until the Trek-Livestrong duo of Alex Dowsett and Sergent crossed the line one just after the other. Sergent, who won Tuesday’s prologue, scored a 31:43, good for the lead, while his teammate took over second, 41 seconds back.
Sergent, who won the time trial at Tour of the Gila a month after finishing second to his trade teammate Taylor Phinney in the individual pursuit at the track world championships, withstood challenges from Ben Jacques-Maynes and Jeremy Vennell (Bissell).
“I felt pretty good. It was definitely the kind of course you have to suffer on, especially with the uphill on the way out and then just trying to turn over the gear on the way back really makes it pretty hard,” said Sergent. “It was pretty hard out there as well, so it was definitely a tough day.”
The Kiwi held the lead with 15 riders remaining on course, but 14th from last was Day, who in June used the TT to take control at Tour de Beauce. Day pushed a 55×11 on the long, gradual descent to the finish at Summit High School and threw his bike to stop the clock in 31:28.
“I’ve done this TT on two other occasions and it’s a difficult one to choose the right gearing, but I think I got it right today,” said Day. “You think you could put a massive, big gear on and ride it back into the finish, but when you’re going 60, 70, 80k an hour, it doesn’t matter how big your gears are, you just have to keep the speed up.”
Only three real threats followed Day on the startlist: national U23 time trial champ Andrew Talansky (California Giant Berry Farms), Day’s teammate Darren Lill and Sutherland. Talanksy, fresh of a week at the beach following a long spring campaign failed to crack the top 10 and Lill clocked a time just outside of Dowsett’s, good for 8th. When Sutherland came through 27 seconds back, the stage belonged to Fly V Australia, who came up just short the day before when Sutherland and Marc de Maar caught David Tanner a few hundred meters from the finish of stage one.
Afterward, Day dedicated his win to former teammate Ben Brooks, who crashed horribly at Cascade in 2008 and is currently receiving chemotherapy for testicular cancer.
Sutherland entered the day with a 29-second advantage over day and maintained his overall lead. “That’s obviously the aim of the day,” said Sutherland. “I can time trial just fine, but I don’t consider myself to be a specialist in the category. I’m probably a bit more of an all-rounder across the park, especially against guys like Jesse and Ben, who that’s there bread and butter for the most part.”
The parcours at Cascade suited Sutherland, a powerful all-rounder who can climb with all but the very best in the sport, and he was satisfied to take the leader’s jersey into Friday’s stage. “It’s not something I generally stress about or worry about,” he said. “I’d rather be in front of people than behind them and playing catch-up like in Nature Valley every year. That’s a little bit more stressful, so it’s not done until Sunday and tomorrow’s a difficult day and we’ll see what happens. We’re quietly confident we have the guys to be able to help out and defend and they’ve been on the front and done races like this many times before.”
Willock shows strength, Abbott confidence
Rebecca Much (Tibco-To The Top), the 2004 junior world time trial silver medalist, started 11th and set the early mark of 38:33. Much’s time held for nearly 30 minutes, but Anne Samplonius (Vera Bradley Foundation) was the first of the late starters to go under 38 minutes, registering a 37:12.
Samplonius, second in the Canadian national TT championships two years running, fended off fast times by Megan Guarnier (Tibco) and Alison Shanks (Bike NZ), but Willock came through the finish after passing Powers and registered the day’s fast time, a 35:56.
“I had a really good minute man,” said Willock. “Alison Powers was my minute man and I knew that if I was putting time into her, I was having a good day and so obviously that brings the psych up if you’re gaining time on her. In a stage race I’m better when I have a good rabbit.”
Abbott, who finished third at nationals three weeks ago on a very similar course (a 35km version of Skyliners), entered the day in second overall after Cheatley outkicked her on the stage 1 summit finish. The Giro Donne winner came close to Willock, but finished nine seconds in arrears. When Cheatley came across 2:39 later, Abbott became the new overall leader.
“My ride at nationals gave me confidence for time trialing in general, which just makes it fun to come back and do it on this course,” said Abbott. “I felt like it was possible, but I wasn’t overly confident.”
- Another day, another botched NRC podium. A day after Kathryn Mattis (Webcor Builders) and Ian Boswell (Bissell) were mistakenly called to the podium, Ben King (Trek-Livestrong) was awarded the best young rider’s jersey when in fact his teammate Timothy Roe leads the competition after the TT.
- A day after a freak crash in the women’s peloton sent her to the hospital via helicopter, Alison Starnes (Tibco) was in good spirits. She fractured her pelvis in two places, but was looking forward to healing quickly.
- After two stages, Abbott holds every jersey in the women’s race other than the best young rider. After the finish, she learned that her grandfather, Lyle Abbott, 93, is not doing well and asked to dedicate the overall, mountains and sprint jerseys to him.
On Tap: Up to Mt. Bachelor
The Cascade Classic continues Friday with the Cascade Lakes Road Race. The summit finish at Mt. Bachelor greets the men after 83 miles and the women after 72. The men will contest KOM points on the Cat. 3 Cascade Lakes Highway climb past Wanoga Snow Park, which begins from the start in Bend. Both men and women will fight it out on the Cat. 1 Mt. Bachelor finish climb. Friday is the last stage where significant time differences can be made in the race and a fierce GC battle should unfold.