Hansen takes slippery Cirque
PORTLAND — Oregon Cup leader Jake Hansen combined brains and brawn to ride away with the Cirque du Cycling Criterium win Sunday on rain-slicked roads in North Portland’s trendy Mississippi Avenue neighborhood. Hansen survived the carnage that occurred on the innovative figure-8 course when a light rain turned the roads into a slip’n'slide, eventually knocking nearly half the field out of the Category 1-2 race.
The Word-RCB rider initiated an early breakaway that eventually attracted Gentle Lovers’ Steven Beardsley, HPChiro’s Josh Liberles, Guinness Cycling’s Clif Heaberlin and Team Oregon riders Stephen Bedford and Christopher Dubois. With sprinters in the break from the two largest squads in the race, the breakaway was almost guaranteed success from its start, although Heaberlin soon fell out of the lead group and eventually dropped back into the chase.
“I thought they were four strong guys that would work,” Hansen said of his break companions. “With these five guys, you know, Beardsley and Bedford are strong dudes, so I was happy to see them come across and knew that it would be a winning move if we worked together well.”
Realizing their advantage, the leaders rotated efficiently and poured on the power, quickly pulling away from the greatly diminished group trying to mount the chase behind.
Back at the front, while Hansen was weighing his options for delivering a win in front of Beardsley, the 2010 OBRA criterium champion, and Bedford, the 2011 Collegiate national criterium bronze medalist, the mostly cloudy skies started dumping the heaviest precipitation of the day. The ensuing carnage further demoralized the chase, and played a role up front as well.
Calculating that the odds of winning a group sprint were not in his favor, Hansen launched an attack with three to go, driving the pace through the second left hand turn of the eight-corner course. Beardsley, Liberles, Bedford and Dubois were lined up on his wheel.
“It was the slightest uphill, and I was kind of waiting to make a move on one of those,” Hansen said. “I went hard and heard two crashes behind me, so I just kept it going.”
The noise behind Hansen was Beardsley sliding out in the corner, piling up Liberles and forcing Bedford and Dubois into evasive action. It opened an advantage for Hansen to press while Bedford, his former teammate and fellow trackie, chased just a few seconds behind.
“I saw Bedford was back there chasing me,” Hansen said. “And so I knew I had to just keep going and hold him at a distance. He’s a great competitor, so I had to crack him while I can because he’s a better sprinter than I am. I had to crack him in the long pursuit, which is kind of my deal.”
The strategy paid off for Hansen with a comfortable win and a long victory salute. Bedford came in for second. Dubois was third. Liberles and Beardsley limped in for fourth and fifth, respectively.
In the Category 3 race, Ironclad Performance Wear rider Daniel Penner’s aggressive racing eventually paid off with a successful breakaway and a win from a two-up sprint with Guinness Cycling’s Chris Ward, who had bridged to Penner and University of Denver’s Matt Lyon to form a three-man lead group. When Lyon punctured with two to go, Penner and Ward were left to battle each other for the top prize. Penner easily took the sprint over the long, slightly downhill finishing straight. Clint Culpepper (Embrocation Cycling Journal) took the field sprint for third.
Cirque du Cycling Criterium
1. Jake Hansen (Word-RCB)
2. Stephen Beford (Team Oregon/Laurelwood Brewing)
3. Chris Dubois (Team Oregon/Laurelwood Brewing)
4. Josh Liberles (HPChiro/Alpine Mortgage Planning)
5. Steven Beardsley (Gentle Lovers)
1. Daniel Penner (Ironclad Performance Wear)
2. Chris Ward (Guinness Cycling)
3. Clint Culpepper (Embrocation Cycling Journal)
4. Joe Dengel
5. Andrew Utz (HPChiro/Alpine Mortgage Planning)