Thursday, April 2, 2009

Bissell Sending Pros For Cherry Blossom; Kem's First Race Since Cali Crash

(Be sure to check back with Oregon Cycling Action for daily reports on Cherry Blossom Classic stages.)

The Pacific Northwest's elite cyclists will converge on The Dalles Friday for the start of the inaugural Cherry Blossom Classic, and they'll face a four-man squad from one of the country's top domestic teams, according to a preliminary list released on the race website. Pro mountain biker and reigning U.S. National Cyclocross Champion Ryan Trebon is also registered, along with his KONA Factory Racing teammate Erik Tonkin.

The race starts Friday morning with the Colmbia Hills Road Race. Riders face two stages Saturday, the 8-Mile Time Trial in the morning and the Cherry City Criterium in the afternoon and evening. The race wraps up Sunday with the Columbia Gorge Road race.

The Bissell Pro Cycling Team has four riders registered for the race: Jeremy Vennell, Morgan Schmitt, Paul Mach and Salem's Omer Kem. This will be Kem's first race back since sustaining serious injuries in a Tour of California crash.

Oregon's Hammer/CMG Racing Team, a powerful squad of juniors has five riders registered, although Piece of Cake winner Jacob Rathe will be in Belgium competing this week.

The Land Rover-Orbea team has seven riders registered, including Oregon's own Evan Elken. The team, which benefits the Lance Armstrong Foundation, is fresh off a swing through California that included racing Sand Dimas and Redlands.

Washington's Hagens Berman squad has eight riders registered, including Piece of Cake runner-up Nick Clayville. Veteran Washington strongman Kenny Williams (1st Rate Mortgage) is also registered.

Team Group Health and Hagens Berman are well represented in the women's pro/1/2/3 field. Riders from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, British Columbia, Illinois and Alabama are registered so far.