Jul 24, 2012

Cascade Cycling Classic 2012 Review: LEX ALBRECHT

Cascade Cycling Classic started off with an evening prologue: fast, fun, and short.  Every second counts, and every right and wrong move matter for those who are going for the win.  The brief, hard effort made  my throat feel raw for 3 days afterwards.

Stage 1 consisted of two long descents, and two long climbs, finishing uphill to the finish.  I initiated a break on the first uphill.  With the gap not big enough to my taste, I tried to drive it a bit harder, until the other girls started to cooperate.  Only two stuck on, Kristen McGrath (Exergy) and Katherin Donvan (FCS-Rouse).  We worked relatively well together.  With under 1km to go to the intermediate sprint (for Queen of the Mountain points) at the summit, Kristen attacked hard.  I was anticipating it, and jumped on her wheel.  Not long after, Donvan launched another attack, but we didn’t let her get away either.  Knowing my legs, and judging by the pitch of the ascent, I decided to sprint with 200m to go.  My plan worked and I scored the full 7 QOM points.  Carmen, Jade, Janel, and Miranda were in the group that caught our 3-woman break on the descent.   We fought it to the end and although we didn’t podium, I was awarded the climber’s jersey, the best young rider’s jersey, Jade the sprinter’s jersey, and Kristen Armstong  (Exergy) stood atop the leader’s podium with us in yellow.
In the break with Kristen McGrath

In the stage 2 day 3 time trial, Carmen climbed atop the podium for an impressive 3rd place finish.  None of the leader’s jerseys changed hands.  After a hard ride, I sank my legs into the cold river that runs through Bend for recovery to prepare for the next day.
Chilling out before the time trial, with my polka-dot skinsuit.  Thank you Cascade Cycling Classic and Champion Systems Clothing
Stage 3 was exciting for me.  It started and finished at a mountaintop ski resort.  Adrian had taped my bars red, and put on white hood covers to match my polka dot jersey.  Jade had green hood covers on to match the sprinter’s jersey.  Jeremy slathered our legs with embrocation, it was cold at the start.  My teammates attacked and we counter attacked, and I ended up initiating a break that stuck.  7 girls, including my teammate Courteney Lowe came with me.  We worked together until some of the other riders realized that strategically, they had to let up.  This left a small handful of us to do the pulling.  With the gap reaching over 4 minutes, it became evident that perhaps we would stay away until the finish.  Courteney started doing my share of the pulling, and hers, and probably a bit more.  The race finished with a relatively long climb.  After a couple of attacks, I was off the front, following Andrea Dvorak (Exergy) and Véronique Fortin (Tibco).  Dvorak tried to get a gap on us a few times (or put us in the hurt-tank, or both…) but didn’t succeed.  Véro put in a hard attack that might have burnt some of her final matches.  Not long after, she dropped off the back and it was up to Dvorak and I. 
Knowing she is a strong rider, had interest in staying away, and that her team had the yellow jersey, I tactically let her do the majority of the work, only coming out of her draft to pull a couple of times in the final kilometers.  Nearing the finish line I sprinted hard, not daring to look back.  Only after seeing the photos of my finish did I realize that I had actually created a 4 second gap.  I was ecstatic crossing the finish line, and made the A-OK sign with my right hand.  I wanted to signal the win with a tribute to my Opa, who passed away in January.  It was his birthday that day.  After one of his rough surgeries, he made the A-OK sign for a photo that was sent out to the family, letting everyone know he was doing alright.  This was a pretty special day for me to bring home the win.  Special thanks to Courteney for helping keep my legs fresh until the end.

On stage 4, a downtown criterium in Bend, we learned the race leader, Kristen Armstrong (Exergy) had dropped out of the race and was on the road to London for the Olympics.  It was a surprise to most of us.  Carmen Small won this stage. Especially with the help of Carmen and Janel, Jade scored all of the maximum intermediate sprint points.  Only 4 seconds separated Carmen and Allison Powers (NOW-Novartis)
Sporting the polka dots with the red bar tape, and white hoods from Adrian.  -Brian Hodes

Stage 5 was a short (85km) circuit race, meaning we did 3 laps of a short course.  The weather was hot and the race was intense.  My legs were starting to be drained and my mind didn’t appreciate the descents.  I let flashes of my last crashes make me hesitate too much. and crawling back up through the pack on the ascents proved to be grueling.  I wasn’t proud.  We didn’t manage to win the race, or mount the podium. 

But in the overall classification, Jade kept the Green sprinter’s jersey, I wore the polka-dot climber’s jersey and the white Best Young Rider’s jersey, and Carmen finished 2nd overall.  There were four of us in the top 10, and we had our other 4 teammates to thank for it.

As for the men, they podiumed several times during the race, and Chad Haga and Jesse Anthony both brought back stage victories.

Cascade Cycling Classic: my first NRC stage win, and a successful race for Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies.

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