(UPDATE: Complete Kings Valley Road Race photos are now online HERE.)
KINGS VALLEY, Ore. -- On a day when the fields defied a course designed to break up groups and ensure success for small breakaways, Lisa Turnbull and Josh Bartlett outwitted crowded bunches at the finish to take the 2009 Kings Valley Road Race crowns.
Moderate temperatures and light winds prevailed on the 18.6-mile course over agricultural roads near the tiny berg of Kings Valley southwest of Salem and Dallas. The course, ridden on wide well-paved roads, featured a few twists and turns, long straightaways exposed to the winds, a few rollers and a steep climb through the finish area.
The large group making up the combined women's field battled for more than 56 miles over two-plus laps, but approached the final hill together after break attempts big and small met with little success.
Lisa Turnbull (Therapeutic Associates Inc.) said the women's field had been neutralized just before it approached the final climb, which caused the group to bunch even tighter as the finishing line approached, making for a crowded, hectic charge to the line.
"I jumped on Kelly Benjamin's wheel when things started taking off," she said. "I used that lead out and then came around her at the line."
Indeed, Turnbull gained a couple of seconds over second-placed Benjamin (Colavita/Sutter Home) and a handful over the sprinting field. Last weekend's Cherry Blossom Classic overall winner Robin Secrist (Veloforma) crossed the line for third ahead of Jen Akeroyd (Team Group Health) and Beth Burns (Veloce/felt).
Just like the women's race, the large Men's Pro/1/2 field had its share of adventurers throughout the three-plus-lap race that covered 75 miles. But nothing seemed to stick as the field reeled-in anything that looked dangerous and let small fliers dangle off the front before bringing them back.
Josh Bartlett (Land Rover-Orbea) eventually soloed away from the bunch with one kilometer to go and crossed the line first, seconds ahead of Mark Blackwelder (Gentle Lovers) and the rapidly closing field.
Bartlett finished the race where he started -- in front of the field.
"I tried attacking pretty much from the gun," Bartlett said. "And that didn't really go anywhere. So I spent most of the race sitting in and conserving. I wasn't feeling too snappy today."
Bartlett credited his two Land Rover-Orbea teammates at the race, Logan Hunn and Evan Elken, with attacking and patrolling the front of the race while Bartlett waited in the pack, especially on the frantic last lap.
"We had Logan going off the front toward the end, there, trying to keep the other teams chasing," Bartlett said. "Then Evan had a couple digs. We hit that last corner with a little over one K to go and Chris Sheppard went. I went on his wheel for a little bit and then went around at about one K."
Bartlett just held off Gentle Lovers' quickly closing Mark Blackwelder, who crossed the line second. Brandon Dyer (Therapeutic Associates Inc.) finished third at the front of the main field.
"That was a hard kilometer," Bartlett said. "Two hundred and fifty meters from the line I thought I was gonna die and get caught. I saw (Blackwelder) coming up behind me and I was just hoping that he would die too. The last 200 meters were just a creep."
Junior Joe Prettyman Stays On Winning Track In Senior Men's Cat. 4 Field
Beaverton Bicycle Club's Joe Prettyman, 16, has wasted little time acclimating to the Men's Cat. 4 field after stepping up from the Juniors' races he grew accustomed to winning. Prettyman sprinted to another Cat. 4 win Sunday, just edging a charging field that hung together for much of the race, including the finale. Seventeen-year-old Phelan Kostur (Fred Meyer/Lakside) finished second. Marcus Benton (Pacific Blue Sky) was third.
Earlier this season Prettyman finished first in the Juniors' Cherry Pie race and won the first two Banana Belt Juniors' races. Prettyman went for the double at the last Banana Belt, finishing fourth in the senior Men's Cat. 4 field and finishing fourth again with the Juniors.
Prettyman finished a modest 29th in the Cat. 4 field at the March 29 Piece of Cake Road Race in Woodland, Wash., but struck back hard and fast by snagging the overall GC prize in the Cat. 4 Men's field of the inaugural Cherry Blossom Classic in The Dalles. The Junior finished 20th in the stage one Columbia Hills Road Race. He came back with a fourth-place finish and moved to fourth overall on the strength of his stage two 8-Mile Time Trial. Prettyman dropped to sixth overall after losing time with a 17th place finish in the stage 3 Cherry City Criterium. But the young rider kept his cool, and his sixth-place finish in the challenging stage four Columbia Gorge Road Race propelled him into the top podium spot for the Cat. 4s.
Nigbor Wins Masters At The Line
(UPDATE: Original winner Mike Sheppard, a Masters Cat. 2 who is back racing this year after nearly 20 years away, was not eligible to win the Masters field, which was limited to Cat. 3s, 4s and 5s for this race. Finnegans Toys' Jon Nigbor won the Masters 40+ race).
The Masters race followed the familiar pattern of fruitless attacks that were either quickly swallowed up or were allowed to dangle just off the front. Mike Sheppard outlasted the rest of the field up the finishing hill to take first by a whisker ahead of Jon Nigbor (Finnegans Toys) and Paul Duncan (Hammer Velo).
Two riders made a serious attempt to get away on the first lap and stayed away for the better part of a full go 'round, but those left in the field eventually found their legs and reeled the pair back in with about a lap to go.
Kings Valley galleries from all fields are posted HERE.