It’s nearly time for Bend in Oregon to host Cascade Cycling Classic. Sponsored by the Bend Memorial Clinic, the BMC Cascade Classic is the longest consecutively run elite stage race in North America, attracting some of the nation’s top cycling teams. For 2012, PRO-USAC Races are on 17-22 July; with the CAT 2, 3, 4, and Masters Race being held on 20-22 July. The race has been given a National Racing Calendar (NRC) of 2.2. 2012 sees the introduction of two completely new time trials, including a 5km prologue.
The PRO stages are:
Prologue – time trial, 3 miles
Stage 1 â€“ McKenzie Pass, 74 miles
Stage 2 â€“ time trial, 20 miles
Stage 3 â€“ Lakes Road, 90 miles
Stage 4 â€“ Criterium, 75 minutes (men), 50 minutes (women)
Stage 5 â€“ Circuit Race, 83 miles
The Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA) category goes for only four days, and includes a 71 mile road race; 12 mile time trial; 40 minute criterium; and 51 to 67 mile (3-4 laps) circuit race.
The past 3 winners of the men’s elite category have been Spaniards Francisco Mancebo (2011) and Oscar Sevilla (2009); and Australian Rory Sutherland (2010). Sevilla ended a 16 year winning run by American cyclists. The last American to win it was Levi Leipheimer, in 2008. America has fared better in the elite women’s category, which started in 2002. Only once has a non-American female stood on the top of the podium, and that was in 2003 when Canadian Lyne Bessette won for the Saturn team.
The Bontrager Livestrong team is one of the hot favorites to take the men’s title this year. They won’t have an easy time from Team Exergy, who will benefit from Carlos Alzate’s climbing, sprint, and long time trial skills. Francisco Mancebo will be hoping for a second win, after his success in Bend last year. Leipheimer is not competing this year. Currently racing for Omega Pharma-Quick Step, he has his sights on the yellow jersey in Paris; and a gold medal in London.
Kristin Armstrong (Exergy Twenty 12) is a strong contender for the women’s title. She’ll be hoping to use it as a warm up for the Olympics road race and time trial, her place in London has been confirmed. She showed great form at San Dimas. She faces stiff competition from the 2011 title holder, Janel Holcomb (Optum).