After a six-month stint in Europe amongst the ranks of the ProTour, Ivan Dominguez is back to winning pro bike races in the USA. Outfitted in his new Rock Racing kit, the Cuban sprinter out kicked a blazing bunch sprint taking the Cascade Classic stage five victory ahead of Argentinean Alejandro Borrajo (Colavita- Sutter Home) and Canadian Andrew Pinfold (OUCH p/b Maxxis).
"It feels great to win this race," said Dominguez who won the criterium downtown Bend criterium in 2007. "I like these kinds of criteriums that have long straightaways. I told the guys that I like this sprint and if I started with 300 metres to go than no one could pass me. I love my new team. People were talking about me and saying that I was done - but, I'm not done winning yet!"
Dominguez's hopes of sprinting for the stage win were almost cut short mid-race when a break of four riders nearly lapped the field. The early move split from an active peloton just 10 minutes in to the 90 minute criterium. It included breakaway specialist Michael Creed (Team Type 1), who has been present in every major move in the last five stages, Jackson Stewart (BMC), Russ Langley (Battley-Harley Davidson) and Kirk Carlsen (Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin).
"We were working well, all taking one section of the course each to pull," said Langley. "We were getting close to lapping the field but we eased up a little bit and the pack was out of sight. Even though the gap fell fast in the last few laps, we were still working well together."
Rock Racing took the responsibility at the front of the peloton to keep the time margin to the break at a manageable 30 seconds. However, their gap exploded to 50 seconds and gain to nearly one minute until they saw the back of the peloton. They narrowly missed lapping the field when OUCH p/b Maxxis moved its cavalry to the front to help bring down the margin.
"We were okay with letting the break go today," said race leader Oscar Sevilla (Rock Racing). "Of course we wanted to win the stage with Ivan but in the end keeping the yellow jersey is the most important. In the end OUCH brought back the break and that was very good for us because that meant Ivan could sprint for the stage win. We knew all week that he could win the criterium here and I'm very happy that he had the chance to sprint after all the work he has done for me this week."
OUCH p/b Maxxis sent five riders to the front displaying an impressive and perfectly calculated chase while teams Rock Racing, BMC Team Type 1 and Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin and Landrover-Orbea waited patiently for gap to close. The final rider from the break was caught with one lap, opening up the floodgates for a mass gallop to the line and allowing Dominguez an, otherwise unanticipated, opportunity to sprint for the stage win.
"We had our work cut out for us but my team is riding unbelievable and we knew we were going to bring it back," said Pinfold. "We took responsibility because we have a good enough team and when I'm riding well I can deliver and get up there. I had Rory [Sutherland] and Tim [Johnson] saved to help me at the end. Dominguez has been riding great this week, I don't think I've seen him ride this well in a few years."
Dominguez came out of the final turn with several strong sprinters including Pinfold and Borrajo wanting to position themselves on his wheel. He took a convincing win while Borrajo came round Pinfold for second place at the line. "Alejandro was left to find his own way in the sprint tonight," explained directeur sportif Sebastian Alexandre. "We don't have the strong squad here, just six guys. All the riders took a break and we came to this race to start again and the guys are not feeling super good."
Rivera take junior gears to a whole new level
Coryn Rivera (ProMan Hit Squad) captured the biggest win of her fledgling cycling career when she outsprinted five-time US national criterium champion Tina Pic (Colavita-Sutter Home) and Australian Kristy Broun (Lip Smackers) at the Cascade Cycling Classic's downtown criterium, stage five of the six-stage event.
"It's such a long straightaway so I just stayed patient." said Rivera who has been practicing her victory salutes in training previous to the Cascade Classic in hopes of winning a stage. "I actually don't think the other sprinters were expecting me to be a player in the final - I guess that surprised them pretty good!"
Rivera, followed by Pic, found her way onto Broun's wheel with 300 metres to go and waited until the last possible moment to jump around her for the win. "I ride with junior gears which is a 52 front chainring and a 14 last cog on the back," Rivera said. "I have a fast acceleration but I can't hold it long so I really have to time it right, every time I sprint."
There were no changes to the general classification with Evelyn Stevens (Webcor-Builders) leading the top spot heading into the sixth and final stage in front of Amber Rais (TIBCO) and Alison Powers (Team Type 1).
"I just stayed up right and stayed in," said Stevens. "It was very hard race and a very fast criterium and my team did a lot of great work. Our goal was to try to keep the race together. I think we could have tried for a stage win with Gina [Grain] but our main goal was the yellow jersey and to keep me safe."
TIBCO on the move
Not a lap passed that team TIBCO was not on the front causing looks of anguish on the faces of the riders through out the peloton behind, chasing to close the gaps. Much like in the previous day's road race, there was never a TIBCO rider without a Webcor-Builders rider following close behind. As the saga continued between the two power-house teams, riders from Lipsmackers, Colavita-Sutter Home, Value Act Capital and VeloForma followed attentively behind, jumping into opportunistic breakaways.
The race for points between Pic, the event's top ranked sprinter and runner up Broun continued to play out during the criterium. A breakaway swallowed up the points in two of the three intermediate sprints. Pic captured full points in the third sprint and her additional points for placing second furthered her lead in the green jersey competition.
"The sprints were a little confusing tonight," said Pic. "I think we got lucky not racing to sprint really hard for every one because there were a couple of breaks that went off for some of them. It was really fast tonight. But it was also a really fun race."
The bell rang signaling one lap to go and TIBCO lined up four riders on the front of the field. Other teams with a strong presence were Value Act Capital, Lip Smackers and Colavita-Sutter Home. Anne Samplonius (Lip Smackers) lead Broun out of the final turn followed closely by Rivera and Pic. Broun started her sprint early but it faded with 10 metres to the line. Rivera and Pic were able to jump around her for first and second respectively.
"I wanted to test my legs in the sprint to see how I was going," said Broun who expressed a great appreciation for her Lip Smackers squad. "The pace was high on the last lap and TIBCO was attacking regularly while Webcor didn't want to let anything go. My team was really working well with me and really looking after me and that was the goal, to get to the final lap in good position. My teammate took me up with 350 metres to go, attacked and I went with her. Unfortunately we hit it a little too early and ended up leading the other two girls out."
|1||Ivan Dominguez (USA) Rock Racing|
|2||Alejandro Borrajo (Arg) Colavita-Sutter Home|
|3||Andrew Pinfold (Can) OUCH p/b Maxxis|
|1||Coryn Rivera (USA) Proman Hit Squad|
|2||Tina Pic (USA) Colavita-Sutter Home|
|3||Kristy Broun (Aus) Lip Smackers|
|1||Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Rock Racing|
|1||Evelyn Stevens (USA) Webcor-Builders|