HOOD RIVER, Oregon (VN) – Mike Olheiser (Juwi Solar-First Solar) has pulled off some amazing feats in his cycling career, but Saturday night’s power display by the 2009 and 2010 Elite time trial and road race national champion will surely add another chapter to his story.
The 36-year-old from Alabama broke away on the first corner of the first lap of the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic Stage 3 Hood River Criterium and then proceeded to hold off a 134-rider pack as he won the stage and rode his way into the overall race lead.
The classic criterium course circles the Full Sail Brewery in downtown Hood River and features a downhill off-camber 180-degree turn that has claimed its share of skin over the years. Olheiser exploited the group’s tentative first trip through the corner to gain his advantage.
“I went around that first 180-degree corner and had a gap on the field,” Olheiser said. “It definitely wasn’t the plan, but when the gap opened up I just started stomping on the pedals.”
And stomp he did, pushing 28 mph laps and eventually building a lead that hovered around 15 seconds before ballooning to 35 with just three laps to go. The gap and the 10-second bonus that went to the stage winner easily made Olheiser the leader on the road.
“That wasn’t my first thought going out there,” Olheiser said. “With a time trialer’s mentality you can go out there and put some time on, but I was really just going for the stage win, and the jersey’s just a secondary thing, so it feels pretty nice.”
Not feeling so nice about the turn of events was former race leader Chad Haga (Team Rio Grande), who said the lack of an organized chase by any teams doomed their chances of bringing back the solo rider off the front.
“That was an amazing ride on his part,” Haga said of Olheiser’s effort. “I spent the first half of the race just being aggressive and trying to keep his lead in check. I got tired halfway through and expected Cal Giant and Pure Black – some of the sprinters’ teams – to organize and pull him back, but it never happened and he just rode away.”
Olheiser finished 23 seconds ahead of field sprint winner Louis Crosby (Pure Black Racing) and 26 seconds ahead of the charging pack, moving into the overall lead with a 14-second gap on Haga and 19 seconds on third-placed Nate English. Chase Pinkham (Bissell Pro Cycling) is fourth overall, 59 seconds back. Jonathan Teeter (Echelon Racing Development) is fifth at 1:05.
Olheiser will wear yellow into Sunday’s Queen stage, the 91-mile Three Summits Road Race that features 10,000 feet of climbing and finishes at Cooper Spur Ski Area. The course hasn’t been used since 2006 when heavy flooding washed out a bridge that links the course together. Olheiser said it might give him a slight advantage because he’s one of the only riders in the race who has competed on the Three Summits course.
“But it’s going to be tough,” he said. “Ian Boswell’s going to be attacking like crazy. Nate (English) looked unbelievably strong yesterday. Ian looked strong yesterday, too. And I’m sure Rio’s not too happy that they’re not in yellow, so they’re going to be throwing some punches as well.”
But Haga said losing the jersey during the criterium wasn’t all bad news.
“Well, they’re not gonna be looking at me tomorrow,” he said. “So that changes our game plan a little bit and we’ll see how it plays out. It’s going to be a real hard day for everybody.”
Antonneau scores after breakaway laps field
A breakaway ruled the day in the women’s race as well when seven riders gained an advantage early in the race and set out in search of stage win glory. Peanut Butter & Co.’s Kaitlin Antonneau joined teammate Tayler Wiles, Jennifer Wheeler (TIBCO-To the Top), Jade Wilcoxson (Pactimo Cycling Team), Pepper Harlton (Juventus), Tricia Bailey (Keller Rohrback) and Katy Curtis (CMC-Bow Cycle) in a move that quickly gained a workable lead.
With Wilcoxson the highest-placed GC rider at 3:35 down coming into the stage, the GC contenders, most notably the Peanut Butter & Co. team of race leader Alison Starnes and runner up Kristin Armstrong, were content to let the escapees have their day.
A crash in the hairpin corner wiped Wiles and Wheeler from the break group and the race, leaving five escapees to take up the battle. Working well together over the fast, technical course, the quintet soon found themselves nipping at the back of the field. They made the catch with six laps to go and started thinking about placing well in the field sprint to win the stage.
“When we lapped the field I just went straight to the front by my teammates and they helped me,” Antonneau said. “It was because of them that I won pretty much. So I’m really happy and want to thank them. I just stayed by my teammates in the top two or three until the final sprint.”
Clara Hughes (Pactimo Cycling Team) showed a powerful finishing kick to take the field sprint — for sixth. Behind her, Antonneau posted a fist-pump victory salute as the stage winner. Wilcoxson grabbed second on the stage and the six-second time bonus that went with it, propelling her from sixth to fifth on GC. Harlton finished third, with Bailey and Curtis behind in fourth and fifth.
Despite the day’s heroics, the top four top riders on GC remain unchanged, with Alison Starnes in yellow by 13 seconds over both Armstrong and Hughes. Rhae Shaw (Keller Rohrback) is fourth, 1:36 back.
The women’s race concludes Sunday with a 70-mile race that will test the with 8,200 feet of climbing.
Mt. Hood Cycling Classic
Stage 3 Hood River Criterium
- 1. Mike Olheiser, Juwi Solar-First Solar, in 56:18
- 2. Louis Crosby, Pure Black Racing, at 0:23
- 3. Gabe Varela, Yahoo! Cycling, at 0:26
- 4. Mark Langlands, Pure Black Racing, at 0:26
- 5. Steven Beardsley, Team S&M, at 0:26
- 6. Adam Thuss, Trek-Red Truck Racing, at 0:26
- 7. Cody Canning, Trek-Red Truck Racing, at 0:26
- 8. Stefano Barberi, Team Stefano Barberi, at 0:26
- 9. Daniel Farina, Firefighters Cycling Team, at 0:26
- 10. Tyler Brandt, California Giant-Specialized, at 0:26
- 1. Mike Olheiser, Juwi Solar-First Solar, in 4:53:45
- 2. Chad Haga, Team Rio Grande, at 0:14
- 3. Nathan English, Yahoo! Cycling, at 0:19
- 4. Chase Pinkham, Bissell Pro Cycling, at 0:59
- 5. Jonathan Teeter, Echelon Racing Development, at 1:05
- 6. Sebastian Salas, Team H&R Block, at 1:05
- 7. Michael Mathis, Rideclean-PatentIt.com, at 1:09
- 8. Dan Bechtold, Hagens Berman, at 1:09
- 9. Garrett McLeod, Team H&R Block, at 1:09
- 10. David Stephens, Garneau Evolution, at 1:11
- 1. Kaitlin Antonneau, Peanut Butter & Co.-Twenty 12, in 39:03
- 2. Jade Wilcoxson, Pactimo Cycling Team, s.t.
- 3. Pepper Harlton, Juventus, s.t.
- 4. Tricia Bailey, Keller Rohrback, s.t.
- 5. Katy Curtis, CMC-Bow Cycle, s.t.
- 6. Clara Hughes, Pactimo Cycling Team, at 1:34
- 7. Melissa Barker, New Hope-GS Boulder-Trek, at 1:34
- 8. Kristin Armstrong, Peanut Butter & Co.-Twenty 12, at 1:34
- 9. Karlee Dendron, Trek-Red Truck Racing, at 1:34
- 10. Rebecca Rising, Metromint, at 1:34
- 1. Alison Starnes, Peanut Butter & Co.-Twenty 12) 3:47:24
- 2. Kristin Armstrong, Peanut Butter & Co.-Twenty 12, at 0:13
- 3. Clara Hughes, Pactimo Cycling Team, at 0:13
- 4. Rhae Shaw, Keller Rohrback, at 1:36
- 5. Jade Wilcoxson, Pactimo Cycling Team, at 1:55
- 6. Kristin McGrath, Peanut Butter & Co.-Twenty 12, at 2:37
- 7. Molly Van Houweling, Metromint, at 6:06
- 8. Ashley Koch TriSports Cycling-Eclipse Racing, at 6:53
- 9. Kristine Brynjolfson, Trek-Red Truck Racing, at 7:14
- 10. Alisha Welsh, Peanut Butter & Co.-Twenty 12, at 7:23