Bend, OR - The Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team flexed its muscles this past week winning six out of eleven races it entered as its riders prepare for Philly week, a series of three races in the greater Philadelphia area held the first week of June.
The sixth annual Mt. Hood Cycling Classic began on Tuesday May 13th with a short 1.8 kilometer prologue time trial. Ivan Stevic showed he's returning to form after a long nine-month bout with a sore right knee by placing third with a time of 2:48.7, 3.7 seconds behind the winner Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell).
The following day, the riders competed in stage one, the Mt. Tabor Criterium. Team Bissell controlled most of the race, which was held on a hilly circuit in the heart of Portland. Despite 90 minutes of attacking by Toyota-United, and other teams, the field remained intact with two laps to go. The final three kilometers saw the Toyota-United boys in red, white and blue turn it over to their two fast men, Hilton Clarke and Ivan Stevic, who finished the job taking 1st and 2nd respectively. As a result of Clarke winning the stage, he also picked up the leaders yellow jersey, king of the mountain and sprinter's jerseys for his efforts.
After a strong fifth place finish in stage three's 29.7 kilometer time trial, Toyota-United's Justin England sat in fourth place in the general classification heading into Saturday's "Queen Stage" that finished atop Mt. Hood, 5500 feet above sea level. Unfortunately, Justin England and Hilton Clarke came down with food poisoning overnight and Clarke was not able to start the stage while England pulled out 10 miles into the race. However, Team Director, Len Pettyjohn, decided to stick with the day's original plan and go on the attack, sending Caleb Manion up the road in a break with nine other riders. They were able to gain a maximum advantage of just under four minutes before the Health Net led pack began to trim their margin as they approached the foot of the final climb. With five kilometers to go, James Mattis (California Giant Berry Farms/ Specialized) accelerated away from his breakaway companions. Manion, after carefully sizing up the other riders in the breakaway, decided it was time to bridge across to Mattis. The duo rode together the remainder of the race before Manion out sprinted Mattis with 200 meters to go, to win his third race of the season by four seconds. The day's effort also moved Manion into 10th place in the general classification.
Meanwhile, in Canada, Dominique Rollin participated in the Grand Prix Saint-Raymond, a two day, three stage race, where he won the stage 2 eight kilometer uphill time trial Saturday in a time of 11:32, finishing 12 seconds clear of 2nd place. On Sunday, Rollin raced in a 136 kilometer hilly circuit race where he broke away with eleven other riders at 35 kilometers to go. With 10 kilometers left in the race, Rollin attacked at the base of the final climb and was later joined by fellow compatriot Francois Parisien (Symetrics). The two worked well together, but Rollin was able to win the sprint claiming his sixth win of the season. "Our breakaway was so successful that I even managed to regain the 6 minutes I lost from a flat tire in Saturday morning's road race and finished in an encouraging 10th place on the general classification." Said Rollin.
In Sunday's final stage of the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic, Ivan Stevic and teammate Chris Wherry attacked early into the 75 minute timed criterium in downtown Hood River, OR. The nine man group never gained more than a 34 second advantage of the Health Net controlled peloton, but on the final lap Chris Wherry was able to keep the pace high for his teammate Stevic as the peloton closed the gap down on the final laps but Stevic was able to claim 2nd place just inches behind Andrew Pinfold (Symmetrics).
Not to be outdone, Team Captain Henk Vogels in his return from a ten day rest period won the Scott Kornfield Coal Miners Classic 75 mile road race in Louisville, CO.