UPDATE, Monday, 5 p.m. -- The Complete Silverton Road race photo gallery is now posted online HERE.
SILVERTON -- Sue Butler (MonaVie-Cannondale) proved to be Oregon's fastest in the dirt and on the road the past two weeks by following her May 16 win on the mountain bike at the Chainbreaker XC in Bend with a win at the Silverton Road Race Sunday.
Butler took the final sprint from a select handful of riders in the Women's Pro/1/2/3 event after attacks, the heat and the course itself whittled the lead group to nine by the second of three 17.5-mile laps.
"We kept pushing the pace and pushing the pace," Butler said. "Alice Pennington likes to be off road driving the pace, too, so there were about four of us that kept working to go faster and faster. People kept popping off and pretty soon I think there there were nine of us. I didn't realize there were that many because I only saw about four or five."
The select group of nine continued to push the pace at the front for about one and a half laps and approached the final climb to the finish pretty much intact.
Pennington was the first to jump at the bottom of the steep short pitch leading up to the finish. Teri Sheasby (BBNS) followed her wheel, with Butler, Lisa Turnbull (Therapeutic Associates) and Lindsay Fox (Team Oregon) in tow.
Sheasby got enough of a gap to hold off all but one of the charging group behind her, with Butler grabbing the win right at the line. Turnbull finished third ahead of Pennington and Fox.
Sheasby attributed her finish to a little bit of luck.
"The three stronger riders kind of led it out," She said of the finale. "I saw an opening and went. At first I thought they're going to pass me any minute, and they didn't. But as we were approaching the line Sue snuck up on me. She had a little more than I did."
Indeed, Butler saved just enough gas in the tank to notch her second win in as many weeks and her first-ever road race win.
"For the first time in my life I actually did the sprint right," Butler said. "I didn't go out first."
Land Rover-ORBEA Returns With A Vengeance
Portland's UCI Continental team returned to town after racing with the best in the country -- and the world -- at the Gila and Joe Martin stages races and quickly put a stranglehold on the Men's Pro/1/2 race, taking the top four spots. Land Rover-ORBEA's Roman van Uden, Evan Elken, and eventual winner Jim Camut broke away early in the first lap with last year's winner, Bend mountain biker Chris Sheppard (Santa Cruz/Shimano/WTB/Fox).
Sheppard, who won the Pro Men's race at the Chainbrealer XC said he came to town for some high intensity training, and he got it courtesy of the yellow-clad Land Rover-ORBEA trio he escaped with.
"It was just good to go out with the ORBEA guys," Sheppard said. "We swapped workload the whole time, and that's all I wanted to do. I wanted a good workout and they're really good at what they do."
The group steadily built a lead of more than three minutes as the first chase pack continued to shed groups small and large. The leaders stayed intact until last-lap attacks started. It didn't take long for the three Land Rover riders to break the outnumbered Sheppard. Camut said it took a one-two-punch from himself and Van Uden.
"Roman had a little gap on a hill," he said, "and it forced Chris Sheppard to chase. So he put in an effort to go and that brought Roman back. I saw that as an opportunity to go, so I accelerated, opened up a little bit of gap and just kept going."
Sheppard was more matter of fact in his explanation.
"They put the wood to me with six miles to go and that was it," Sheppard said. "Evan dragged me along for a few k, and then I was just done. That was it."
With teammates Camut and Van Uden up the road, Elken still had to reach deep to hang onto his third-place finish.
"I was riding with Chris Sheppard, third and fourth on the road," Elken said. "And all of the sudden we see a chase group coming. So I had to ride my tail off to get to the finish for third."
Sheppard couldn't match Elken's increased tempo and slipped back to the chasers.
"He was probably feeling a little tired," Elken said. "I said to him 'We gotta go faster,' and I started pedaling harder. He just put his hand up and said 'I'll pass,' pretty much."
Camut crossed the line first followed by Van Uden about 45 seconds later. Elken held on for third, and his teammate Aaron Tuckerman beat Cyclepath's John Browning and Veloce/Felt's Eric Sheagley in the sprint for fourth.
Portland's pro team will be in town for a couple weeks of training for the the TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship in Philly. The team will race the Rehearsal Road Race May 23 in Rainier, then they'll be in Portland Sunday for the Laurelwood Brewery Block Party and Fun Ride. The team will also be in town for the OBRA championships May 30.
RACE NOTES: Bend's Ryan Trebon (Kona), who is still recovering from knee and back injuries suffered in the pro cross country race at Sea Otter, also made the trip down for the Silverton race and finished in the pack.