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Newly named Mt. Hood race to expand in 2009

Mt. Hood Cycling Classic

Mt. Hood Cycling Classic (Image credit: Kurt Jambretz)

Oregon's Mt. Hood Cycling Classic will see some changes for 2009 including a new name and more stages. The six-year old event will be called the Oregon Pro Cycling Classic, and it will stretch out over eight stages over eight days, covering 600 miles and 50,000 feet of climbing.

"It will hands down be the most difficult stage race in the US," Tre Hendricks said to The Oregonian. "We want to build the reputation of the race so that the best riders in the world want to come here."

For next year, the race will likely convert to an invitational-only format for the men's race while seeking to recruit American's best teams as well as a few European teams. The extension to eight days means the race will match the Tour of California in length and exceed the length of the Tour de Georgia by one day.

Organizers' biggest challenges are expected to come from increased budget requirements. Hendricks estimated that the two-day extension of the race will have the effect of tripling the race budget. To offset the increase, the race hopes to expand media coverage and attract more sponsors. In 2008 Comcast stepped in to replace Full Sail, a Hood River brewery as title sponsor.

Looking ahead to 2010 and beyond, the race may grow further to also reach areas such as Crater Lake and the Wallowa Mountains.

The six-stage 2008 edition was held from May 13 to 18 this year and won by Rory Sutherland (Health Net/Maxis) and Julie Beveridge (Aaron's Professional Women's Cycling Team).