Bend, Oregon is a beautiful place. Most of us knew that though, after having raced there previously at U23 and Junior nationals. Honestly, I was just glad to get out from the humidity of the south east and get back to racing after taking some time off. The BMC-Hincapie lineup for Cascades included Ty Magner, debuting his Stars n' Bars jersey, Blair Turner, back after breaking his wrist at Joe Martin, Jovan Zeko, straight off the plane from a month at home in Serbia, Mike Stone, champion pool shark, Larry Warbasse and Matt Lipscomb, who, like me, had also taken a mid season break. Unfortunately, we started a man down after Tanner Putt, also known as Van Putt, crashed while training and broke his collarbone. But these things happen and all we could do was miss Van Putt's easy going ways.
We arrived and found out we were staying at a farm in Sisters, about 20 miles from Bend. Gorgeous place with a pool, a lama, horses, cows, dogs, golf carts, and the nicest hosts you could ask for. The first few days there we reconed some of the critical points in the stages under the guidance of Thomas who would drive behind us and then blast ahead to sun himself in the bed of the truck at the top of whatever mountain we were climbing.
The prologue, a short, 4 km effort went ok. Similar to the first stage and the longer time trial. Matt was highest on the GC for us, putting in excellent performances on the first mountain top finish and time trial. Ty had put his name out there for the green jersey by nabbing a few points, and the rest of us were searching for some good legs. On the third stage, a day that finished on top of Mt. Bachelor, Matt crashed and seriously sprained his wrist.But he finished 15 minutes down, and the GC was out for him. Racing can be a cold hearted master sometimes. But after that little setback, the team rallied together and we made the most of the last two days of racing.
Thomas knew that the criterium would suit us a lot more than some of the mountain stages so he wanted everyone to race up front and help Ty, who, in his saaweet new National Championship jersey did his stripes justice. We missed a promising move so Ty asked me to ride on the front and help Jamis bring it back. The race ended in a field sprint and Ty got 8th. We wanted more, but Ty was just warming the jets up.
The final stage was familiar to us since it had been the Nationals road race course and is a personal favorite of mine. A mixture of punchy little climbs a few rollers, and some cross winds combined with a red hot fast first lap completely shredded the field. A break of 6 got away but BMC-Hincapie just sat there and waited for the 30 man split we were sure was going to ride away. Under the watchful eye of Competitive Cyclist, it never did. The race was destined to end in a field sprint when the last of the break got caught on the final lap. And keeping out of trouble, and the wind, was BMC-Hincapie. In the final corner, Ty unleashed a killer sprint, catching everyone by surprise, including stage winner Jesse Anthony who had attacked with 1 k to go, celebrated a little early, and almost got pipped by Ty in the same fashion Luke Keough did at U23 crit nationals. Alas, it wasn't to be this time and Ty lost by milimeters. However, a 2nd place finish is still a great result in the hardest stage at the end of a stage race. Like good cheese and fine wine, the team got better as time went on.
Next up are criteriums all over North Carolina including High Point, Hanes Park, and all of Crossroads. Come out, cheer us on, and wear your coolest Hincapie and BMC gear cause I'll be rocking mine. Until then!, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. This heat is a killer.