Mt. Hood shuffles the deck for 2011

Mar 3, 2011 by

The Historic Columbia River Highway will be a big feature of the 2011 Mt. Hood Cycling Classic's Stage 1 road race on June 3. The stage race begins for the pro men and women on Thursday, June 2, with the Panoramic Prologue in Hood River and ends on Sunday, June 5, with the return of the Three Summits Road Race that finishes at the Cooper Spur Ski Area on Mt. Hood. ©Pat Malach

HOOD RIVER — The 2011 Mt. Hood Cycling Classic is dipping into its past and trying out some new wrinkles as it shuffles the deck for its ninth year on the Oregon cycling calendar. Although scheduling and route changes may alter the look a bit from recent years, the infamously demanding alpine courses remain at the heart of the four-day race.

Jamie Sparling, 2009 Hood River Criterium

The Hood River Criterium will return for the 2011, although it moves from Sunday's finale to Saturday evening. ©Pat Malach

The signature Scenic Gorge Time Trial is gone for 2011, but the new stage 1 road race course makes multiple passes along sections of the same Historic Columbia River Highway that built the time trial’s international reputation. A shorter, flatter time trial in the shadow of Mt. Adams will provide this year’s race against the clock. Gone also is the iconic Wy’East Road Race queen stage, replaced by the equally epic Three Summits Road Race, a familiar course from Hood’s formative years that has been out of service since flooding wiped out a crucial bridge in 2006.

Due to calendar conflicts with the U.S. Pro Championship, which is moving from its previous late-summer date to Memorial Day Weekend at the end of May, Mt. Hood’s organizers moved the start of this year’s event back to June 2 to accommodate travel time for riders and teams coming from the East Coast.

The shorter schedule drops the two Portland days from last year, with the Pro/1/2 men and women starting Thursday in Hood River on the same prologue time trial course that was last used in 2009. All other categories will start with the stage 1 road race on Friday. Organizers will consolidate the time trial and the criterium on Saturday, with a final road race deciding the overall on Sunday.

Continue reading the full post, including stage details and photos…

2010 MT. HOOD CYCLING CLASSIC SCHEDULE

THURSDAY, June 2

Panoramic Point Prologue Time Trial (pro/1/2 only)
HOOD RIVER: The Pro/1/2 men and women will set the pecking order for the following day’s road race with this three-mile sprint that climbs just 300 feet. The course consists of a small climb for the first 1/3 mile, then a long descent before a finishing climb up to the viewpoint where riders can get a good look at Mt. Hood and the Three Summits Road Race that awaits Sunday. Elite Time Trial National Champion Mike Olheiser won this opening event in 2009, the last time the course was used. French pro Edwige Pitel won the women’s race in 2009.

FRIDAY, June 3

Bissell riders lead the bunch up Seven Mile climb during the 2009 Cherry Blossom Cycling Classic. ©Pat Malach

Stage 1 Columbia Hills Road Race
THE DALLES: The new Columbia Hills Road Race course will make several passes along the stretch of historic highway that many a pro has listed among the most scenic they’ve ridden. But now large packs will climb and descend these roads as all categories begin the stage 1 road race with a hardy 28.6-mile, mostly out-and-back trip along the former time trial route between The Dalles and Mosier. For all but the Cat 3/4 women, the course continues clockwise from The Dalles up the Seven Mile climb that was last featured in the 2009 Cherry Blossom Classic stage won by Adrian Hegyvary, a Hagens Berman rider who now rides with United Healthcare’s Pro Continental team. The long, exposed climb eventually crests and descends back into Mosier and another trip down the Historic Highway to The Dalles for 5,050 feet of climbing over 56 miles.  The Pro/1/2 men make one more 28-mile loop up Seven Mile to Mosier and back to The Dalles for a total of 84 miles and 7,800 feet of climbing.

SATURDAY, June 4

Stage 2 Trout Lake Time Trial
TROUT LAKE: New for 2011 is the The Trout Lake Time Trial, the first leg of the Saturday doubleheader.  The 10.6-mile time trial will start and finish in Trout Lake, Washington, the host site for 2010’s Mt. Adam’s Road Race.  The course, which features just 400 feet of climbing, is protected from the strong winds of the Gorge as it rolls through farmland on quiet roads that offer looming views of Adams and Hood.

Stage 3 Downtown Hood River Criterium
HOOD RIVER: With the morning’s time trial out of the way, Saturday evening is reserved for the criterium, a crowd favorite on a technically challenging course that circles the downtown plant of race sponsor Full Sail Brewing. The .6-mile course climbs 60 feet per lap and features a downhill, 180-degree turn that tests riders’ nerve and handling skills. Jamie Sparling, a Canadian Trek-Red Truck rider who signed with the English-based Raleigh squad this year, won this stage the past two years in a row. Canada’s Leah Guloien (Total Restoration) won the women’s race in 2010.

SUNDAY, June 5

Stage 4 Three Summits Road Race
MT. HOOD: Used consistently in the early years of the MHCC, the Three Summits course has been out of commission since flooding wiped out a bridge in 2006, but the Forest Service has made the needed repairs and the race returns this year. Starting at the Cooper Spur Resort Hotel and Restaurant, the stage winds through the Mt. Hood National Forest in the foothills of the big mountain before finishing at the Cooper Spur Ski Area.

Forty miles of narrow, single-lane Forest Service roads with twisting descents and climbing make this race a unique Pacific Northwest alpine experience. The course consists of two significant climbs with 2,000 feet of total elevation gain each, followed by one final climb up to the finish, which features an average grade of 15 percent over the final 400 meters. The Pro 1/2 men will circle the Lost Lake Loop twice, making their race nearly 100 miles with more than 10,000 feet of climbing. The women will cover 72 miles for 8,200 feet of elevation gain. The Cat 3/4 women cover a 57-mile loop with a little over 6,000 feet of climbing. Scott Moninger (HealthNet) won on this course in front of Phil Zajicek (Navigators) the last time it was used in 2006. Alisha Lion (Webcor) finished three seconds ahead of current National Road Race Champion Mara Abbott (Rio Grande) to win the women’s race that year.

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