July 7/05 9:30 am - Cascade Classic Stage Race: Fraser takes Stage 1
Posted by Editoress on 07/7/05
Cascade Classic Stage Race Oregon
Team Navigators report
Stage 1: Brooks Resources Prineville Road Race, 115 miles
A new edition to the Cascade Classic, the 115-mile route from Bend (Oregon) to Prineville and back, offered some of the truly majestic scenery that is so typical of Central Oregon. Although the meat of the stage was not set to be particularly challenging topographically, the length of the stage combined with the effects of the hot sun and brisk wind on the open roads set the stage for an epic contest. To put the proverbial icing on the cake, the stage finished with the challenging ascent up Pilot Butte, a difficult 2.5 km climb to the top of the Butte's lookout post.
The racing started fast with constant attack over the opening 25 miles keeping the field stretched in a long single file, and putting several riders in difficulty early. As the field seemed to grow weary from the steady onslaught of attacks, a solo effort by Vitamin Cottage's Chuck Coyle was allowed to establish a slight advantage. The peloton seemed ready to call a truce, and Coyle's advantage slipped up to 20 seconds before a counter attack by 5 riders escaped in pursuit. Navigators Insurance's Phil Zajicek, in his first team appearance since breaking his heal bone in May, was joined by HealthNet's Gord Fraser, Jittery Joe's Jonny Sundt, TIAA Cref's Zach Taylor, and Cal-Giant's Taylor Tolleson. As the main group settled back, the five chasers bridged Coyle, and the six quickly built a sizable advantage. As the gap crested 4 minutes, two Sea Silver riders, Curtis Gunn and Kyle Gritters snuck away from the main field in an attempt to bridge.
With the break clearly established at over 5 minutes, Zajicek and Fraser cut back on their contribution in an effort to protect their team leaders in the group behind, but strong work by Sundt and Coyle kept the gap intact.
The two Seasilver guys were riding a steady tempo, and although the gap from the 6 leaders to the field had remained fairly constant, the Seasilver lads were closing the gap. As the groups completed the loop around Prineville and began their return to Bend, the two chasers were making contact with the leadersâˆ‘aided by some poor course marshalling and a momentary misdirection of the lead group. With the lead group now up to 8, the gap to the field began to grow again. As the leaders approached the start of the day's 2nd KOM, about 35 miles from the finish, the Navigators sent Oleg Grishkine, Kirk O'Bee, and Shawn Milne to the front to stabilize the gap, which had now grown to 11 minutes. Meanwhile, the leaders passed through the course's second feed zone, and began the long gradual climb to the KOM. It was time to change the dynamic up front, and Zajicek launched an early attack on the climb. Fraser was able to follow, and Sundt put in a heroic effort, but could not hold the acceleration. With Zajicek setting the pace, he and Fraser opened the gap on the now splintered break and pushed towards the KOM line. The Navigators rider took his 2nd mountain sprint of the day, and the two leaders crested the climb with a 50 second advantage. The gap to the field was just under 6 minutes, and the Navigators were setting a hard pace up the climb. Zajicek and Fraser were working together now, and 5 of the chasers regrouped as Coyle faded and drifted back to the peloton. Over the next ten miles, the pursuit fought to close its deficit as the two leaders worked smoothly together and slowly built on their advantage. Eventually the cord snapped and the duo built their lead towards two minutes. As the two leaders turned onto the Pilot Butte road, Fraser took control and set as strong a pace as possible with Zajicek glued to his wheel. One km from the summit the road steepened and Zajicek began to have difficulty. Fraser began to pull away, putting 10 meters between himself and the Navigators rider, but Zajicek maintained his composure and with a steady rhythm, started to pull Fraser back. At 200 meters, Zajicek surged and pulled up along side the Canadian champion who was just able to hold on for the unexpected win. Meanwhile, a hard effort by the field was able to catch the 5 chasers and a rocket assault from Navigators Insurance's Columbian climber Cesar Grajales detonated the field. Only HealthNet's US Pro road champ Chris Wherry could hang on as Grajales crossed the line for the third podium spot, only 57 seconds behind, with Wherry taking 4th, and Navigators' Nathan O'Neill grabbing 5th spot another 10 seconds back. Zajicek's strong climbing netted the KOM jersey as the race enters the difficult climbing of stage 2 and the ascent of Mt Bachelor.
1. Gord Fraser (Health Net/Maxxis) 4:38:19
2. Phil Zajicek (Navigators) s.t.
3. Cesar Grajales (Navigators) 0:57
4. Chris Wherry (Health Net/Maxxis) s.t.
5. Nathan O'Neill (Navigators) 1:07
6. Cameron Hughes (Subway) 1:16
7. Aaron Olson (Colavita/Sutter Home) 1:22
8. Ben Jacques-Maynes (Kodak Gallery) 1:23
9. Cameron Brenneman (Kahala LaGrange)
10 .Neil Shirley (Seasilver) both s.t.