Sunday, March 22, 2009

Rathe, Pennington Win Banana Belt Finale

Jacob Rathe (Hammer/CMG) won the Men's Pro/1/2 event and Alice Pennington (Veloforma) claimed top prize in the Women's 1/2/3 at Sunday's Banana Belt #4 around Henry Hagg Lake. Contested under relatively mild weather, the men’s race covered 77 miles and the women tackled 44.


Veloforma’s Alice Pennington celebrated her first complete race with the 2009 Banana Belt women’s field by winning a bunch sprint for the top prize ahead of Team Group Health’s Jen Akeroyd and Therapeutic Associates’ Jill Howe.

Pennington, a Hood River racer who earlier this season finished second at the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Ultra-Endurance Calendar’s Mas O Menos in Terlingua, Texas, has been testing her road racing legs in the Senior Men’s Cat. 3 field and crashed out of last weekend's women's race, but it didn’t take long for her to put that behind her. With a contingent of Veloforma teammates controlling the front of the race, several short-lived break attempts served only as preamble to the all-out rush to the line on the last of four laps.

Pennington’s experience paid off with a win on the line just ahead of early season powerhouses Akeroyd and Howe.

MEN PRO/1/2/3

The Hammer/CMG Racing Team pulled off a hat trick Sunday by picking off the top three spots in the Pro/1/2 field’s mad dash for the line.

Jacob Rathe crossed the line first, ahead of an obviously pleased Marcel deLisser and third-placed teammate Austin Arguello, whose aggressive riding throughout the 77-mile day allowed his teammates to reserve their top effort for the fast, slightly downhill bunch sprint after the race came back together on the final lap.

“I was just trying to be aggressive and try and get in some breakaways,” said Arguello (pictured), who literally did not miss a chance to go down the road and was off the front for 5 ½ laps of the seven-lap race.

Arguello’s adventures didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates, who were obliged to let others expend energy chasing back Arguello and his changing cast of breakaway comrades.

“He was gone the whole race,” Rathe said. “Every time a group went he was with them.”

When the main bunch caught the last serious escape attempt on the closing lap, Arguello saved his final move to ignite the free-for-all to the finish line.

“I went on the bridge,” He said. “Marcel moved on my wheel and Jacob went though a little gap and won.”

Rathe said the final dash was chaotic.

“I was just trying to work my way up the right,” he said. “There were a lot of people moving around and doing stuff. I just kind of poked through a few holes and all of a sudden I was out in front. That’s a good feeling.”

Cyclepath’s Aaron Sanders, who fought his way back to the front of the field after getting gapped off on Lee Hill nearing the finish, crossed the line in fourth.

The Hammer/CMG Racing Team will collect its laurels and head to Rochester, Washington, for the Independence Valley Road Race on Saturday, March 28, and the Piece of Cake Road Race the next day in Woodland, Washington.


Men pro/1/2/3
1. Jacob Rathe (Hammer/CMG)
2. Marcel deLisser (Hammer/CMG)
3. Austin Arguello (Hammer/CMG)
4. Aaron Sander (CyclePath)
5. David Root (Therapeutic Associates Inc.)

Women pro/1/2/3

1. Alice Pennington (Veloforma)
2. Jen Akeroyd (Team group Health)
3. Jill Howe (Therapeutic Associates Inc.)
4. Joanna Mensher (Gentle Lovers)
5. Heather Gunderson (Veloforma)