Hughes tops time trial and moves into race lead at Cascade Classic

 
Kirstin Frattini, www.cyclingnews.com, Bend, Oregon

Francisco Mancebo (RealCyclist.com) displayed a winning individual performance at the Skyliner Time Trial, stage two of the Cascade Cycling Classic. The Spaniard rode the 22.4 kilometre course in a time of 29:05, besting Tom Zirbel (Jamis-Sutter Home) by 26 seconds and Jeremy Vennell (Bissell) by an additional 13 seconds.

“Nothing Mancebo does surprises me anymore and he has been time trialing well all year,” said RealCyclist.com DS Gord Fraser. “When you can beat a guy like Zirbel, on a course like that, says something. We are really happy with his result today.”

Mancebo’s winning performance moved him into the overall race lead heading into the next mountain stage. The stage three Cascade Lakes Road Race is considered the ‘queen’ stage for its 134 kilometre route that finishes at the top of Mt. Bachelor.

“I’m a bit nervous about tomorrow, especially with the climb right out of the blocks, because that might give our team some difficulty,” Fraser said. “We have a good plan and the guys have been riding so well in defense of the jersey all year. It is not done and I am nervous about tomorrow. But, the circuit race is also very hard on the last day.”

The time trial offered a challenging uphill jaunt on the way out to the turn around and a gradual descent on the way back. Zirbel expressed slight disappointment in his second placed performance, but described aspects of the parcours that suited his ability along with parts of the course that did not.

“After the prologue I was worried about Mancebo because I didn’t expect him to go that fast,” Zirbel said. “I am disappointed to be second because I wanted to win today and I hoped that we could be in the jersey another day, but I came up short. We will try to be on the podium – that is realistic.”

“The course was straight forward and I didn’t really like the climb on the way out,” he said. “I definitely made up all my time on the descent on the way back. I used my weight advantage on the way back.”

Vennell moved up in the overall classification and is confident that his team will be able to put forth a strong set of tactics during the next three stages that could move one of its riders into the overall win.

“It is going to be close because Cesar Grajales and Francisco are both riding very well,” Vennell said. “We have Chris Baldwin climbing very well. We have a lot of options for the next stages. The only way we are going to beat him is to attack him often. He can’t follow everyone. Hopefully he will have to let one of us go and that will be the move. One-on-one, he is very tough to beat.”

Hughes tops time trial and moves into race lead

Six-time Olympic medalist Clara Hughes (Cycling BC) secured a convincing victory at the Skyliner Time Trial, stage two of the Cascade Cycling Classic. The Canadian rode the course in a time of 32:44, out-pacing former world champion Kristin Armstrong (Peanut Butter & Co Twenty12) by 20 seconds and her fellow countrywoman Erinne Willock (Tibco-To the Top) by an additional three seconds.

“I’m really happy with the race, it was hard and it was a headwind on the way out,” Hughes said. “I just had to put my head down and put out as much power as I could on the way out. I wish I had a bigger gear on the way back. I had a 54-11 and just tried to get into a good position on the bike and keep pedaling. I love time trialing because it is always a great test to see where I stand against some of the best riders in the world, who are here. I’m really pleased with today; it is another good step forward for me.”

Hughes moved into the overall race lead heading into the stage three ‘queen’ stage that finishes atop Mt. Bachelor. She is confident in her ability to hold on to the overall race lead, while having enjoying a scenic mountain stage race in the process.

“I will go down with the ship, that is for sure,” Hughes said. “I’m here with the provincial team from British Columbia and we have some good young riders. We are going to have fun with this, do the best we can and hold our heads up high, whatever happens.”

The time trial offered a challenging uphill jaunt on the way out to the turn around and a gradual descent on the way back. “There were two minor downhills on the way out and then all uphill mainly,” said Willock. “I had to hang on for the way back. It was a good course and a good time trial.”

Willock recently recovered from a broken her scapula in April and is confident that her team can move ahead of Hughes and win the overall title before the conclusion of the stage race on Sunday.

“I missed a few races and haven’t been racing that much,” Willock said. “I think there is a chance I can move into the overall. There are still three more days of racing and Carmen Small and I are right up there in the GC. I think there is a huge possibility and we are totally going to go for the overall here.”

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