Karsten Hagen (ZteaM) topped off his Banana Belt series overall win with a Piece of Cake Sunday by claiming his third victory in as many races. The Hood River rider finished his March hat trick the same way he won the second and third races of the Banana Belt series -- by joining a small break away group set up by one of his ZteaM comrades.
In a race typified by many breakaways and bridging efforts, the attacks started on the first crosswind section and did not let up. There were a couple of initial efforts up the road that were swallowed quickly; the wind made it difficult for small groups dangling off the front to stay away.
"If you didn't establish a convincing gap right away, the field would swallow you up," Hagen said.
Nike, ZteaM and bicycleattorney.com controlled the race until Matt Slater (ZteaM) and Matt Hill (Garage) got away about halfway through the first lap and built a good gap right away. Mark Magilner (Half Fast Velo) slipped away and chased alone for nearly an entire lap.
Hagen said with constant bridge attempts up to the two-man break, his goal was to make sure another ZteaM rider made it into any chasing groups.
"I finally got a good bridge effort going with Mark Steger (Nike) and Brian Griffith (Garage)," he said. "Brian refused to work, so Mark and I battled the headwind until we caught Magilner. Our speed picked up and we caught Slater and Hill with about one lap to go."
With six strong riders in the lead group working hard against the winds and building a good gap, thoughts turned to the finish.
Hagen and Slater began attacking the group and whittled the leaders down to four: Hagen, Magilner, Steger, Slater. Hagen started attacking with about five miles to go and within a mile had dropped everyone but Steger.
"Mark began sprinting at about 300 meters and I came around him at the line," he said. "I raised one hand in an OBRA compliant salute."
Magilner and Slater duked it out for third and fourth respectively. The Garage riders came across the line individually and Kent Johnston (Fred Meyer/Lakeside) won the field sprint.
1. Karsten Hagen (ZteaM)
2. Mark Steger (Nike)
3. Mark Magilner (Half Fast Velo)
2009 Piece of Cake Masters 1/2/3 Slideshow:
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