Wilcoxson, Rathe take 2010 Kings Valley Crowns
KINGS VALLEY – Southern Oregon’s Jade Wilcoxson headed north Saturday for her first race of the season and kicked things off by taking the Women’s Cat 1/2/3 crown at Kings Valley. Jelly Belly/Kenda’s Jacob Rathe shirked off the disappointment of a cancelled Vuelta Mexico date with the USA Cycling U23 National Team and sprinted to a win from a large lead group in the Men’s Pro/1/2 race.
The second stop on the Oregon Cup Series, the Kings Valley race has become a classic in the OBRA spring season. The nearly 20-mile loop southwest of Salem dishes up about 1,650 feet of climbing per lap, with most of the hills coming at the beginning, and the highest ascent saved for the finish-line climb about three-fourths of the way through the circuit.
Portland’s Veloforma showed up for the Women’s Cat 1/2/3 race with plenty of firepower, looking to score more Oregon Cup points for the team. But conditions and the course kept things in check and made it difficult for breaks to stay away, despite repeated attempts.
“Veloforma was working really hard,” said Wilcoxson, who was the lone rider in the race for Flywheel Bicycle Solutions, a small bike shop team from her hometown of Talent. “They had a lot of strong girls, and they were definitely taking turns attacking.”
With a lack of serious climbing to make selections, and winds making it difficult for breakaways, the race look destined for a large group finish.
“It was hard on the windy stretch on the back side,” Wilcoxson said. “You couldn’t get a big enough group off to manage the winds, so it ended up being like two or three girls off, and you can’t stay away.”
As the select field rolled toward the last climb to the finish line, Veloforma put its superior numbers to work with about four riders on the front pressing the pace. Wilcoxson sat back waiting for Veloforma’s climbing specialist Teri Sheasby to make a move on the uphill sprint.
“I was just watching Teri Sheasby because I knew she’s the big climber and she could get me if she wanted to,” Wilcoxson said. “And then someone went and someone else tried to go at 200 meters, so I figured it was now or never with Teri on my wheel.”
Wilcoxson caught and passed the other riders and was able snag the win from Sheasby, who followed immediately behind for second. Portland’s Sue Butler crossed the line for third, with Sorella Forte’s Jen Akeroyd fourth and Lisa Reeve (Veloforma) fifth.
Wilcoxson said the late sprint benefited her because the final climb flattened out significantly in the last 200 meters.
“Thankfully (Sheasby) didn’t go before the 200 meter mark, so I could use my sprint,” She said. “I’m definitely more of a flat sprinter.”
A trio of riders tried for 2½ laps to break the chains in the men’s race, but the large field behind was having none of it as a chasing herd of 15 or so broke away from the main bunch and quickly reeled in the original escapees on the last lap.
Team Exergy’s Austin Arguello initiated the race’s longest breakaway after also making it into an earlier first-lap move that was probably too dangerous to last very long.
“The race started with HP Chiro on the first lap kind of gutter-balling it,” Arguello said. “We got a break of six or so, but it got caught pretty quick.”
That original move also included its HP Chiro founders, Jelly Belly/Kenda’s Jacob Rathe and veteran mountain biker Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bicycles), an all-star line up of red-hot riders that didn’t go unnoticed in the chasing field, which quickly notched up the tempo enough to bring the leaders back.
Rathe said at the pace the breakaway was setting, he was surprised the leaders couldn’t make it stick.
“We were moving really fast,” he said. “And I was very surprised that the pack was always back there still. We could never cut the cord. We were definitely motivated, but the wrong guys were up there for it to get away.”
Once the field swallowed up the breakaway near the end of the first lap, Arguello wasted little time trying his luck again, this time taking Rob English (Hutch’s) and Steven Holland (United Finance) with him. The trio built a lead of nearly a minute over several laps before a select chase started forming with a little more than a lap to go. Small groups just started escaping the field, and pretty soon a sizeable group formed that included Rathe and Sheppard. But Rathe said he still worried the group may have been too big to work well together.
“I was thinking this looks like kind of a problem,” he said. “But when we crossed the finishing hill with one lap to go it was kind of surprising how well everyone worked. It was such a big group to be so smooth. The 45-second gap to the lead break came down in like six miles or something. Just really fast.”
Even Sheppard said he was surprised that such large group could cooperate so well in the chase.
“For being a big group it rolled pretty well,” he said. “Usually with a group that big you’d think people would sit on, but we all kind of flowed.”
The chasers caught the lead trio about a quarter of the way into the last lap and continued to work together until the closing minutes of the race.
“There was a lot of cat and mouse for the last 10 minutes there,” said Sheppard, who took the long run at the finishing hill and launched his final jump before the climb started in earnest. “I led it out. I started it out on the flats there and just pretended I was Chris Horner doing that climb the other day (in the Tour of the Basque Country) and just stood up the whole way.”
Sheppard’s long-haul tactic would have paid off but for the young rider that he had tried to escape with back on the first lap.
“I had some separation, but Jacob caught on,” he said. “He’s young and fast, and he pimped me at the line.”
Arguello and English, not yet through after their earlier escape attempt, crossed the line next for third and fourth, respectively. Team Oregon’s Chris Swan finished ahead of the next small strung-out group for fifth.
Rathe, who’s won international level races around the world with the national team, was typically understated about the race’s finale.
“You know, there were a few attacks in the end,” he said, “but I got a good lead out up to the hill. Sheppard kind of blew it apart, and I was the only one left. For me, just getting to the 200 meter line where it flattens out was the hardest part. (Sheppard) has got a big motor, and staying on that wheel going up the hill was tough. So it was a good day.”
Check back later for the complete Kings Valley Photo Gallery.
Kings Valley Road Race
Satrurday, April 10
Kings valley, Oregon
1. Jacob Rathe (Jelly Belly/Kenda)
2. Chris Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bicycles)
3. Austin Arguello (Team Exergy)
4. Rob English (Hutch’s)
5. Chris Swan (Team Oregon)
1. Jade Wilcoxson (Flywheel Bicycle Solutions)
2. Teri Sheasby (Veloforma)
3. Sue Butler
4. Jen Akeroyd (Sorella Forte)
5. Lisa Reeve (Veloforma)
Masters Men 40+
1. Mark Magilner (Half Fast Velo)
2. Bruce Rogers (Hutch’s)
3. Jeffery Otto (Portland Velo)
4. Erik Bergstrom (Therapeutic Associates/GENR8)
5. Adnan Kadir (Aeolus Cycling)
Cat 3 Men
1. Jake Hansen (Word-RCB)
2. Austin Boswell (Hot Tubes Junior Development Team)
3. Adam Edgerton (Team Oregon)
4. Trevor Spahr (Ironclad Performance Wear)
5. Todd Dye (Pacific Power Blue Sky)
Cat 4 Women
1. Megan Chinburg (Veloforma)
2. Stephanie Croy (Ironclad Performance Wear)
3. Maire Osborn (Life Cycle Bike Shop)
4. Amy Shepard (BRIHOP)
5. Erin Goodall (Artisan Family Racing)
Cat 4/5 Men
1. James Jorgensen (Life Cycle Bike Shop)
2. #2090 (Hammer Velo)
3. Steven Case (Team S&M)
4. David Masuda (Team Bike Tires Direct)
5. Doug Turnbull (Midtown Racing)