Holcomb, Mancebo take Cascade overall
BEND — Francisco Mancebo (Realcyclist.com) successfully defended his overall lead Sunday during the Cascade Cycling Classic’s closing stage after best young rider Lachlan Morton joined eventual stage winner Bobby Sweeting (Kenda/5hr Energy/Geargrinder) and seven other riders in a successful breakaway group and came within 42 seconds of stealing yellow.
In the women’s race, Janel Holcomb (Colavita/Forno d’Asolo) got away from a small group near the end of the stage with eventual winner Anne Samplonius and took the overall lead from Cycling B.C.’s Clara Hughes.
The men started their 83-mile, five-lap test at 1 p.m. as temperatures approached 90. Attacks started flying in the opening miles and continued throughout the day, putting constant pressure on Mancebo, his teammate Cesar Grajales, who started the day second overall, and the rest of the young Realcyclist.com team. Eventually, with his teammates peeling off the front and drifting back into the field, Mancebo could not contain a strong breakaway that got away with two laps to go.
Sweeting, Morton, Shem Rodger (Pure Black Racing), Alex Howes (Chipotle Development Team), Danny Summerhill (Chipotle Development Team), Ian Boswell (Trek-Livestrong), George Bennett (Trek-Livestrong), Michael Creed (Kelly Benefit Strategies) and Stefano Barberi (Yahoo! Cycling), made their move over the third ascent of Archie Briggs and soon gained a one-minute advantage over Mancebo and the rest of the field.
With Morton starting the day 5th overall, just 1:22 back, Mancebo, who has now won five of the six NRC stage races he’s contested, found himself in the most dangerous position since Bisselll’s Frank Pipp took the race leader’s jersey away on the last day of the Joe Martin stage race. And with jerseys, a stage win and the possible overall title on the line, the young riders from Chipotle kept the pressure on, eventually shedding Howes, Creed and Barberi over the final lap, approaching the closing kilometers with a group of six.
“They wanted the KOM points for Howes, and they wanted some more time for Lachlan (Morton),” Sweeting said. “And so they were really motoring. That’s what kept it away. I was able to take it a little bit easier and let them take responsibility, which allowed me to get a small gap with two or three k to go.”
Just ahead of Sweeting, the women’s caravan was trailing the last of the riders finishing their four-lap race, and Sweeting used the ensuing chaos to his advantage.
“Once we came over the top I saw the women’s caravan and knew it would be a matter of taking a few risks to get around the cars and hoping the guys behind got held up,” he said. “It worked out, but it was more dangerous than we would have liked. But it was all or nothing at one k to go.”
Sweeting pressed through the cars and finished almost anonymously with the tail end of women’s bunch. Morton crossed the line 13 seconds later, followed by Rodger, Bennett, Boswell and Summerhill. Pipp brought in another group of six 42 seconds later, and Mancebo crossed the line in a group of four, 47 seconds down to hold onto the overall win.
Morton said the confusion with the women’s caravan was disappointing because it may have affected the outcome and a possible stage win for his team, but he was happy with the overall result and nearly taking down Mancebo.
“It was cool to be able to put Mancebo on the ropes like that,” the 20-year-old Australian said. “We came up a little bit short, but we left it all out there on the road, so we’re happy.”
Realcyclist.com director Gord Fraser may have liked the end result, but the route to the podium’s top step was too close for comfort after a long week of defending the jersey.
“Directing cycling might be taking years off my life more than racing,” he said. “I’m a little surprised we let such dangerous guys go. So we’re not perfect, we have a lot of work to do. But, again, when you have a hammer like (Mancebo) it’s pretty easy to wrap things up.”
Jeremy Vennell (Bissell Pro Cycling) joined Morton and Mancebo on the overall podium for third. Chipotle also found success with Morton’s Best Young Rider jersey, Howe’s polka dots climber’s prize and the green sprinter’s jersey Rob Bush took with his Saturday evening criterium win. Boswell was Oregon’s best-placed rider on the stage in fifth, and he finished seventh overall.
HOLCOMB WINS STAGE, OVERALL FROM HUGHES
A mid-race breakaway of 11 riders animated the women’s race, as overall leader Clara Hughes found herself isolated on the front and vulnerable to repeated attacks from Colavita, Tibco and Now & Novartis for MS. As the lead group passed over Archie Briggs and descended down to the start of the fourth and final lap of the 67-mile race, a group including Samplonius, Holcomb, Kaylee Boyd (Bike New Zealand) and newly crowned U.S. national road race champion Robin Farina (Now-Novartis for MS) went clear of the others.
Holcomb, who started the day 1:14 down on Hughes, attacked the next time up Archie Briggs and shed all but Samplonius, who supplied much of the power for the lead duo as they closed in on the finish. the Now & Novartis rider got the advantage at the line for the stage win. Holcomb finished with the same time and began watching the clock for Hughes to cross the line. The Cycling B.C. rider finished with the main chase group, 2:17 back, elevating Holcomb into the race lead and moving Samplonius into second. Hughes dropped down to third.
Holcomb’s win rewarded her team for its decision to go for the win rather than play it safe and simply earn enough National Race Calendar points to put her in the lead for that series.
“This morning we sat down for a team meeting,” Holcomb said. “Rachel said, ‘OK guys we can play this a few different ways. We can play it safe and just make sure Janel gets enough NRC points to take the lead, or we can race this race how we want to race.’ And all of us were like, let’s race. So all seven of us were all in. We figured there was no reason to sit and wait. It’s the last stage race of the year. So we were all ready to go.”
The team’s effort paid off with yellow and the Nicole Reinhart Trophy for Holcomb, the climbing jersey for Rushlee Buchanan and the sprinter’s jersey — won on the last day — for Andrea Dvorak. Tibco-To the Top took the team competition. Jade Wilcoxson finished 10th on the stage and 10th overall as Oregon’s top rider.
Cascade Cycling Classic
Stage 5 Awbrey Butte Circuit Race
1. Robert Sweeting (Kenda/5hr Energy p/b Geargrin) 3:00:38
2. Lachlan Morton (Chipotle Development Team) @:13
3. Shem Rodger (Pureblack Racing) s.t.
4. George Bennett (Trek-Livestrong) s.t.
5. Ian Boswell (Trek-Livestrong) s.t.
1. Francisco Mancebo (Realcyclist.Com Pro Cycling) 10:42:00
2. Lachlan Morton (Chipotle Development Team) @:42
3. Jeremy Vennell (Bissell Pro Cycling) @:49
4. Luis Romero Amaran (Jamis Sutter Home) @:55
5. Tom Zirbel (Jamis Sutter Home) @1:09
1. Anne Samplonius (NOW and Novartis For MS) 2:51:51
2. Janel Holcomb (Colavita/Forno d’Asolo) s.t.
3. Kaytee Boyd (BikeNZ) @1:02
4. Robin Farina (NOW and Novartis For MS) @1:48
5. Rushlee Buchanan (Colavita/Forno d’Asolo) @2:17
1. Janel Holcomb (Colavita/Forno d’Asolo) 10:47:44
2. Anne Samplonius (NOW and Novartis For MS) @:23
3. Clara Hughes (Cycling BC) @1:09
4. Erinne Willock (Team TIBCO/To the Top) @1:22
5. Kristin Mcgrath (Peanut Butter & Co.Twenty12) @ 1:28