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Cherry Pie, an Oregon Classic; Mason Lake #3: Series Finale

Published by HPCCycling on 25 Mar 2015

Race season is in full swing, and clearly the team is ready to rumble. A trio went up to Washington to work for Kent Ross in the Mason Lakes Road Race series, and a full eight-man squad headed to Independence, Oregon, in search of Cherry Pie. Both squads had great races, with Kent Ross netting second in the Mason Lakes series and Josh Liberles scoring second at Cherry Pie with Adam Oliver in seventh.

Cherry Pie: An Oregon Classic

Squad: Carl Hoefer, Trevor Spahr, Steven Beardsley, Josh Liberles, Cort Buchholz, Adam Oliver, Galen Mittermann, Jonathan McCoy
Photo: The sprint for second at Cherry Pie, featuring Josh's pain face. (by August Frank)

Willamette Valley Cycling and promoter Kenny Graham did a fantastic job of revamping the Cherry Pie Road Race course for 2015. The result: a big, mean, rolly 30-mile circuit that the Elite men would traverse three times for a true Oregon spring classic. 

Intermittent rain and wind added to the "classic" ambiance, but as we at HCH-RPM are quickly learning, Castelli's Gabba jerseys help us to shrug off -- and perhaps even look forward to -- these early-season conditions. Carl, Cort and Trevor got to work early, with each one representing the bright green team in early attacks and breakaways off the front.

A brief lull gave Josh and Adam the opportunity to move forward. No sooner had Josh hit the front at the base of the most sustained pitch on the course than a blistering attack came from local pro Jacob Rathe (Jelly Belly). Josh covered the move, and the duo briefly had a gap. Another 10 riders joined the party to form an even dozen as the group rolled over the crest, with Adam Oliver astutely joining the move.  Jonathan and Cort dangled tantalizingly close to the back of the split, but a rear derailleur failure spelled doom for Cort.

All of the bigger teams were represented, with many of the race's biggest threats able to make the split. In addition to Adam, Josh and Rathe, Tim Reinhart and Andrew Coe (River City/Rapha); Dwayne Farr (US Military); Cameron Clark and Stephen Lockwood (Team Oregon); Colby Wait-Molyneux (English Cycles); Austin Arguello (TAI); Paul Bourcier (Smith & Nephew); and Billy Truelove (Hutch's) joined the party.

The pace remained hot enough to establish a gap over the peloton. About 20 more miles in, both Arguello and Farr lost contact with the group. With no representative in the break, once Arguello came back to the peloton TAI was forced to go to work and attempt to reel the move back in. But with so much firepower up front, they were unable to make much of a dent in the split.

Just past the race's midway mark, with more riders beginning to fatigue, racers started raising the pace, then firing full-blown attacks to further whittle the group down. Reinhart and Coe ended up chasing after one of these splits, and never regained the front of the race -- although they did hold off attacks that were beginning to shoot off the front of the main field to lock up top-ten placings. Josh and Bourcier had several would-be breakaways together over the ensuing 20 miles. Adam dutifully sat in and forced the others to chase these moves down until, with about 20 miles to go, Josh countered a move that Adam covered. Bourcier bridged up, and they combined to establish a gap that would stick.

A makeshift podium shot after a wicked hard day of bike racing. Jacob Rathe with the win and @ridehifi of @hchcycling in second! Couldn't find Bourcier, who was third. Sorry, buddy, you missed out on some mighty fine cherry pie!Rathe motored across to the front of the race, and Clark was able to come along. Wait-Molyneux found himself isolated with Adam and Lockhart unwilling to chase down their teammates; the winner would come from that lead quartet.

With nine miles left and energy beginning to wane in the group, Rathe raised the pace on a roller. It was enough to give the powerhouse a little daylight, and that's all he needed. He extended the gap and held it all the way to the line to win the classic in classic-style: solo. Bourcier briefly sat in second on his own until Josh and Clark were able to claw their way back.

The chasing trio rotated together until the closing kilometers. Bourcier attacked again out of the final corner, with about 1500 meters along a fast, tailwind-blown finish left to go. Josh gradually worked his way back to the Smith & Nephew rider's wheels, and shed Clark in the process. With about 300 meters remaining, Josh jumped hard to lock up second, with Bourcier third

Adam was the next HCH-RPM rider in, taking seventh behind Wait-Molyneux (fifth) and Lockwood (sixth). Reinhart led Truelove in for eight and ninth.

Not content to just sit in the field behind, there was active racing to fight for the remaining placings. Jeremy Russell (TAI) and Carl Hoefer (HCH-RPM) combined for a two-man move that finished 10th and 11th, respectively. Trevor Spahr (HCH-RPM) led the next group in for 12th.

Mason Lake RR #3: The Series Finale

Squad: Stephen Bedford, Joel Fletcher and Kent Ross

Coming into the third Mason Lake Road Race, Kent was sitting in third for the series and our goal was simple: move him into first or second overall.

The pace was fast early and after a few attacks and counter attacks from the Audi team, a break went away with 10 riders including Morgan Schmitt (Audi) and Carson Miller (Jamis). Instead of sending Joel into the break again, we decided to not take points away from Kent, and chase with the teams not represented. Unfortunately none of the squads were willing to give assistance in the chase.

Joel and Steve Fisher (Jelly Belly) took turns taking pulls on the front for 50 miles. Stephen took some long and strong pulls when he could, and a few others teams would send random riders to help some. Our game plan became to chase, and keep the pace high and hope the break would blow itself up. This tactic worked somewhat as the break hovered at around two minutes for most of the race.

We swept up two riders who dropped out of the break, but never caught the others. Joel set up Kent with a huge pull from 3 kilometers to go to position our sprinter ahead of Fisher to win the bunch sprint and take eighth on the day. Morgan Schmitt won the day out of the breakaway.

This result moved Kent into second place for the Mason Lakes series. Schmitt won the overall series with Fisher in third.

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