McKissick & Wilcoxson seal CBCC wins
THE DALLES — The Cherry Blossom Cycling Classic’s Stage 4 Orchard Run Circuit Race lived up to its reputation as one of the toughest days in Oregon as constantly undulating roads and Gorge winds combined to decimate fields Sunday and set up gritty duels for the overall win.
Jade Wilcoxson (Landshark/Flywheel) had to chase furiously over the closing miles and push for every possible second in the women’s Pro/1/2 race to hold off an overall challenge from stage winner Jessica Hannah (Cycling BC), who went on a solo flyer and was eventually the leader on the road until the very last meters of the race. Ian McKissick and his Audi team kept an all-day breakaway within range in the men’s Pro/1/2 race before he fended off a last-lap challenge to his overall lead from Morgan Schmitt (UHC). Late-race entry Eric Riggs (Yahoo!) stuck with the GC contenders through their last lap battles and collected the stage win for his efforts.
An Uphill Drag Race Decides the Women’s Overall
After three days of racing, the battle for the women’s overall came down to who could go the fastest over the last 400 meter uphill sprint. Hannah had started the day fifth overall, 2:13 behind Wilcoxson, and her Canadian team played it’s cards perfectly. When Hannah took off the first time the women went up the two climbs of the big loop, she left two teammates back in the eight-rider chase group, including Jasmin Glaesser who started the day just 1:56 down on GC and Jenny Lehmann, who was 3:48 back. The remaining riders in the chase included the rest of the top nine overall : Patricia Bailey (Keller Rohrback), Jessica Cutler (Cucina Fresca), Lisa Turnbull (REP Gym/Riverstone), Katy Curtis (CMC Bow Cycle) and Megan Chinburg (Upper Echelon Fitness).
“I wanted to set tempo on the climb, and I got a bit of a gap,” Hannah said. “I just wanted to keep going so a couple of the girls in the pack could rest a bit, so if I got caught they had fresh legs. That was sort of the team plan.”
With no teammates in the group to help chase, Wilcoxson was pressed into double duty, keeping Hannah close while also watching for counter attacks from other GC threats, all of whom were present and forcing the leader’s jersey to do the work of chasing down the escapee.
“The top three GC girls were trying to work together,” Wilcoxson said of herself, Bailey and Cutler. “But then on the last lap I spent a lot of time on the front. I didn’t know how far down on GC (Hannah) was, but I was worried the whole time and was hoping the rest of us would work together, but that didn’t happen as smoothly as I’d hoped. Then we saw their coach and he told the other BC girls not to work because it was going to be close. And so then I was like “Oh crap.” So I started working really hard.”
Hannah gradually built her lead to 2:35 and was the overall leader on the road through many of the closing miles, but the gap had dropped to an improbable 2:13 (her exact deficit to Wilcoxson) as she turned onto Olney Road for the 400 meter uphill run to the summit. The exhausted Cycling BC rider motored up the hill and through the line for the stage win. Having done all she could on the road, the only thing left was to wait for Wilcoxson to cross the line to find out if her all-day solo gambit had paid off.
Still on the course, the race leader was now well aware that every second counted and continued to power the charge for the line, eventually dropping all but Lehmann in the closing Kilometers. The Cycling BC rider opened a gap on Wilcoxson heading up the final run to the finishing, crossing the line 1:53 after her teammate for second. Wilcoxson crossed the line four seconds later, good enough to hang onto the overall victory by 16 seconds. Glaesser crossed the line another 12 seconds later for fourth, with Bailey a further five seconds back. Megan Chinburg (Upper Echelon Fitness), winner of the previous night’s criterium, finished two seconds later for sixth.
After all the the dust settled, the only change to the top five in general classification was Hannah’s vault into second place. Everyone else, aside from Wilcoxson, moved down one spot from the previous stage, with Bailey third, Cutler fourth and Glaesser fifth.
McKissick Puts Up A Descent Defense
Men’s overall leader Ian McKissick had to fend off a serious challenge to his leader’s jersey, but his defense came down to his ability to descend through the never-ending perfectly cambered curves of the Pleasant Ridge free fall into the fertile valley below.
The men’s stage 4 contest started with an immediate breakaway of seven, but that group reshuffled itself several times before arriving at a stable makeup of Trek-Red Truck’s Aarden Marcel, Adam Thuss and Craig Logan, Team Oregon/Laurelwood’s Andrew Boone, Glotman Simpson’s Craig Jones, Hagens Berman’s Steve Fisher and Byrne Invent’s Sean Passage, who was the best-placed GC rider in the breakaway at 1:54 down.
McKissick’s Audi squad rode the front of the pack in an effort to keep the breakaway within a manageable distance for when it came time to reel them back in, and the field even seemed to be catching the lead group at one point as it started shedding riders. But the pack mysteriously sat up as they got the lead group in sight just before the base of the gravel climb up Pleasant Ridge.
Now down to three — Passage, Logan and Fisher — the breakaway started its final lap around the Orchard Run loop with a small advantage and heaps of motivation. Back in the field, attacks started as riders hoped to bridge to the leaders and strike out in search of stage win glory or a chance to step up a few places in the overall contest. But it was Morgan Schmitt, who started the stage sixth overall, 1:29 behind McKissick, who successfully made the bridge to the leaders and had McKissick scrambling behind to get there with him. Also in tow was Yahoo!’s Eric Riggs, a last-minute entry into the race after he didn’t make his team’s selection for the prestigious Redland’s Bicycle Classic in California.
The new trio made contact with the three riders in the breakaway on Five Mile Road approaching the last trip up the gravel, where Schmitt attacked at the bottom and opened a 10-15 second lead over the other five by the time they reached the top. McKissick was the last lead rider to crest Pleasant Ridge, but he immediately shot to the front and started hurling himself down the descent, leading the others back to Schmitt and finally reeling him in as they neared the bottom.
The veteran of European World Tour races said he wanted to make sure his teammates’ efforts to control the race to protect his overall lead didn’t go to waste.
“Morgan was really strong,” McKissick said. “He had me on the ropes from the final climb on. I was just in survival mode. But I was motivated because Patrick Stanko, my teammate, rode pretty much three laps on the front by himself.”
Once they were back together, McKissick seemed content to watch the others and make sure none of the dangerous GC riders got out of site in the closing kilometers. That’s when Riggs started thinking about the big finish at the top of Olney Road.
“I was dying,” Riggs said of the final few kilometers. “But coming up the last climb I was just thinking, ‘I haven’t been here all day suffering to finish third. I guess it’s now or never.’ So I just gassed it. ”
When he hit the finish, Riggs had built a four second advantage over Schmitt and five seconds over Logan. Fisher was 16 seconds behind, and McKissick came in 40 seconds down to secure his overall win. Chasing just behind the entire time, Taylor Kneuven (Geox Fuji Test Team) had slowly been pulling closer to the leaders, eventually catching Passage and taking him at the line for sixth, 1:57 behind Riggs.
Unlike the women’s race, the top five overall looked quite a bit different than when the day started. McKissick was the only remaining member from the day before. Schmitt’s effort moved him into second overall. Logan moved from 11th onto the overall podium in third. Passage climbed from eighth to fifth. Fisher jumped from 24th to sixth, and stage winner Riggs moved from 31st all the way into the money in seventh, a fact that has made him a permanent Cherry Blossom fan.
“I was really bummed out that we didn’t get into Redlands,” he said. “But my buddy Austin (Arguello) told me ‘Cherry Blossom, dude, that’s is where it’s at.’ So 11 hours Thursday night; got here Friday and started racing. I really like this. I’ll definitely be coming back next year.”
Stage 4 Orchard Run Circuit Race
1. Eric Riggs (Yahoo!) 3:21.45
2. Morgan Schmitt (UHC) +:04
3. Craig Logan (Trek-Red Truck) +:05
4. Steve Fisher (Hagens Berman) +:16
5. Ian McKissick (Audi) +:40
1. Jessica Hannah (Cycling BC) 2:16.00
2. Jenny Lehmann (Cycling BC) +1:53
3. Jade Wilcoxson (Landsahrk/Flywheel) +1:57
4. Jasmin Glaesser (Cycling BC) +2:09
5. Tricia Bailey (Keller Rohrback) +2:16
FINAL GENERAL CLASSIFICATION
1. Ian McKissick (Audi) 7:25.45
2. Morgan Schmitt (UHC) +:53
3. Craig Logan (Trek-Red Truck) +1:39
4. Taylor Kneuven (Geox Fuji Test Team) +1:57
5. Sean Passage (Byrne Invent) +2:19
1. Jade Wilcoxson (Landshark/Flywheel) 5:55.58
2. Jessica Hannah (Cycling BC) +:16
3. Tricia Bailey (Keller Rohrback) +:37
4. Jessica Cutler (Cucina Fresca) +2:07
5. Jasmin Glaesser (Cycling BC) +2:38