The Cascade Cycling Classic in Bend, Oregon will unveil two new time trials for the 33rd edition the National Race Calendar event that runs six days in July, organizers announced this week.
The race opens Tuesday, July 17, with a brand-new five kilometer opening prologue time trial course on the slopes of new development by the Tetherow Golf course on the southwest edge of town. The short loop, with a limited amount of climbing, was previously used as part of the 20km time trial course for the 2009-10 elite nationals and will set the pecking order for stage one. The men start at 6 p.m. and the women follow.
"It's got just a couple of teeny, teeny rollers on it," said race director Chad Sperry. "It's actually a really, really nice course. It will be the best prologue we've done in years for Cascade."
The stage 1 McKenzie Pass Road Race on July 18 is back for the third-consecutive year. Both men and women will tackle 123 kilometres with two significant climbs starting about two-thirds of the way through the race. The first ascent brings riders from about 1,800 feet to nearly 5,400 in just over 20 miles on a road that's closed from November through July and which prohibits large trucks and motor homes because of the tight switchbacks near the top.
The stage continues onward through massive lava flows between the Three Sisters and Mt. Washington peaks before plunging into Sisters and then climbing to 5,400 feet again for the finish. RealCyclist.com's Cesar Grajales won the men's stage last year, while Kristin McGrath (Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY 12) took the women's race.
Thursday's Stage 2 offers up another new time trial course as the traditional Skyliners route west of town has been scrapped for a 33km out-and-back test that parallels the scenic Crooked River starting at Prineville, approximately 40 minutes northeast of Bend. The same course will be used for the masters national championships in September.
"It's pretty flat," Sperry said. "It's a big-ring, time trial specialist's course for sure."
That will be the biggest change for the race from previous years, and it will likely change the complexion of the overall battle.
"I think we're going to see a bit more balance," Sperry said. "There was enough elevation in the old Skyliners course that the climbers could do their damage on McKenzie and Mount Bachelor and still be kind of in contention (in the time trial that followed). But now it's going to level the playing field a little. The big guys are going to have a bit more advantage than what they've had in the past. But they still have to work their butts off over McKenzie Pass. It's going to be a real interesting dynamic."
Following the time trial test, the stage 3 Cascade Lakes Road Race course is back again for 2012 with a slight change for the men, who will start and finish at Mt. Bachelor – making two clockwise loops around the mountain – rather than starting in Bend and riding to Mt. Bachelor as in previous years. The men will race 150 kilometers, while the women tackle 68. Cesar Grajales took his second stage win here in 2011, and Rushlee Buchanon (Colavita-Forno d'Asolo) won the women's stage.
The Saturday evening criterium returns for stage 4 with the familiar rectangular course that slices through the heart of downtown. The 1km course features straightaways that span five blocks, with a single block separating them on each end. The south end of the course, which transitions from a wide, smooth road to a single lane, draws some of the biggest crowds. Chipotle's Robert Bush took the men's race last year after lapping the field with five other riders. Lauren Hall (Colavita-Forno d'Asolo) grabbed the women's win.
The 2012 race concludes Sunday, July 22, with the traditional Awbrey Butte Circuit Race, a 26 km loop on the edge of town that rolls though farmland to the northwest and then climbs through a residential neighborhood on the edge of town. The course and its infamous Archie Briggs climb is a familiar favorite for the stage race and has also been used for multiple national championship events. The men tackle five laps for 138 kilometres, while the women race four laps for 111 kilometres.
Kenda/5-Hour Energy's Bobby Sweating won the men's final stage in 2011, while Francisco Mancebo fended off a challenge from the Chipotle squad to take the overall. Now and Novartis for MS rider Anne Samplonius won the women's stage last year, but her breakaway companion Janel Holcomb (Colavita-Forno d'Asolo) took second and climbed from seventh into the overall win.
2012 Bend Memorial Clinic Cascade Cycling Classic
Tuesday, July 17 Tetherow Prologue Time Trial
Wednesday, July 18 McKenzie Pass Road Race
Thursday, July 19 Crooked River Time Trial
Friday, July 20 Cascade Lakes Road Race
Saturday, July 21 Downtown Bend Twilight Criterium
Sunday, July 22 Awbrey Butte Circuit Race