Hansen, Butler take the Cake
PERRYDALE — Oregon Cup leader Jake Hansen (Word-RCB) drove the point home Saturday by winning the Piece of Cake Road Race after joining a breakaway on the second of four laps and then escaping the lead group in the final kilometers. Sue Butler capped off her weekend training by soloing two of the three laps in the women’s Cat 1/2/3 race and then holding off Oregon Cup leader Jen Akeroyd’s last-lap chase.
Saturday’s Piece of Cake Road Race lived up to its billing as Oregon’s mini version of the Belgian spring classics that produce the legendary tough guys of the European peloton. Wind, rain and sleet mixed with sunshine and calm skies as endless bunches of Pacific Northwest storm systems rolled through these Willamette Valley farmlands northwest of Salem. The three-mile stretch of gravel on De Jong Road added to the pain and began the slow attrition that whittled many fields into small groups just fighting for survival. Thirty percent of the starters DNF’d the race.
The men’s Pro/1/2 race turned into the Tale of Two Jakes in the closing kilometers as former Portland State University teammates Jake Hansen and Jacob Rathe (Team Chipotle), both riding without any teammates Saturday, teamed up to fight superior numbers in a five-man lead group to go one-two across the line.
The fireworks started in earnest for the men as they hit the gravel section several miles into lap two. Team Oregon’s Chris Swan and Guinness Cycling’s Zach Winter hopped off the front and began powering away from the field. Hansen immediately took off after them, followed by Team Oregon’s Adam Edgerton.
By the time they started lap three, the lead group had grown to seven, including the move’s initiators, Swan and Winters, now joined by Hansen, Edgerton, Rathe, Brant Buchholz (Therapeutic Associates) and Team Oregon’s Eli Romer. The break remained intact and started lap four with a lead of more than four minutes over the greatly diminished field.
Sticking with the aggressive style that has put Hansen in the Oregon Cup leader’s jersey, the relatively new Cat 2 began attacking the lead group as the riders made their last trip around the 17.5-mile circuit. Buchholz and Edgerton soon lost contact, leaving Team O’s Swan and Romer to battle Winters, Hansen and Rathe for the win.
The Team Oregon riders appeared to have a numerical advantage, but when Hansen launched another attack in the closing kilometers, his former teammate Rathe waited for the other riders to close it down. When they couldn’t and Hansen’s advantage seemed secure, Rathe launched himself out of the group and headed toward the leader, eventually getting within 10 seconds but falling short as Hansen crossed the line alone, obviously exhausted from the effort.
“It’s good to have friends in the peloton,” Hansen said after the race, referring to Rathe’s decision to let the other riders counter Hansen’s winning move.
Swan and Winters dueled for third place about 30 seconds after Rathe’s finish, with Swan narrowly taking the last podium spot by a bike throw. Romer finished fifth. Edgerton and Buchholz hung on for sixth and seventh.
In the women’s Cat 1/2/3 race, Butler and Therapeutic Associates’ Sarah Fletcher broke away from the group in the gravel section early into the second lap. With Butler powering the move, the pair gained a workable advantage over the combined Cat 1/2/3 field until Fletcher suffered an untimely flat.
“It was the worst timing,” she said. “I was hoping to contribute to the breakaway. But it was fun.”
While Fletcher received a tire change and jumped back into the field, Butler was trying to consolidate her advantage by pressing the issue up front, building a lead of nearly a minute as she started the final lap. The chasing field started the third lap mostly intact, until Oregon Cup leader Jen Akeroyd (Sorella Forte) and Anne Usher (Upper Echelon Fitness) jumped away and spent the remainder of the race trying to reel in the lone leader.
But it wasn’t to be on this Saturday, with Butler holding on to her lead and crossing the line about 30 seconds ahead of Akeroyd, who beat Usher in a two-up sprint for second. Ironclad Performance Wear’s Anna Christiansen, winner of the Cat 3 race that was scored separately, finished next, about 1:15 behind Akeroyd and Usher. Lindsey Fox brought the field home about 45 seconds later. Fletcher eventually finished with the field and snagged second place in the Cat 3 race.
Afterward, Butler made it clear what she thought of her decision to ride in front of the chasing field for two laps on a blustery spring day in the wide open Willamette Valley farmlands.
“That was dumb,” She said at the finish line. “I was supposed to make it hard, but that was a little too hard. Kendra (Butler’s coach) told me if I made this a hard race I didn’t have to race tomorrow. I’m going skiing tomorrow.”
Piece of Cake Road Race
1. Jake Hansen (Word-RCB)
2. Jacob Rathe (Team Chipotle)
3. Chris Swan (Team Oregon)
4. Zach Winter (Guinness Cycling Team)
5. Eli Romer (Team Oregon)
Cat 1/2/3 Women *Cat 3 scored separately
1. Sue Butler (River City Bicycles)
2. Jen Akeroyd (Sorella Forte)
3. Anne Usher (Upper Echelon Fitness)
4. Anna Christiansen (Ironclad Performance Wear) *Cat 3 winner
5. Lindsey Fox (Upper Echelon Fitnesss)
Complete OBRA results are HERE.