(The complete Cycling Action photo gallery for this race is now posted online HERE).
Portland Mayor Sam Adams starts the Cat. 3 race.
PORTLAND -- Portland's Gentle Lovers took things over the top in their effort to keep Steven Beardsley's week-long winning streak alive at the Cirque du Cycling Criterium in Northeast Portland Saturday, launching their speedster over the line with room to spare and then taking the runner-up spot as well.
The Laughing Planet Cafe's Cirque du Cycling was part festival, part street race and a benefit for Self Enhancement, Inc. A full day of parades, rides and a street fair celebrating bicycles and other human-powered technology preceded the evening racing, which kicked off at 5 p.m. with the 45-minute Category 3 race that was started by Portland Mayor Sam Adams. The 60-minute Pro/1/2 race started at 6 p.m.
The festival-like atmosphere complimented a creative course that slung riders through eight corners in less than a mile as they passed down crowded NE Mississippi Avenue in both directions. Looking a bit like a musical note, the course featured one-block-square loops at either end with a two-way straightaway connecting them in the middle. Combined with a seemingly never-ending stream of primes, the race was a festival of cornering, and sprinting, and cornering and sprinting, and so on, and so on until the grand finale.
The difficult course was quick to jettison riders out the back of the field but made it difficult for breaks to stay away, especially with Gentle Lovers' superior numbers putting in a lot of work on the front keeping things together for their sprinter Beardsley.
"We knew that HP Chiro had a plan to try and isolate me," Beardsley said after the race. "(Teammates) Mark Blackwelder and Kevin Hulick took some huge digs. Everyone was coming up and showing their faces when they needed to. The team was key."
While the pace paired the field down to a select group at the end, nothing seemed to stay away for even one lap of the .8-mile course. As the group approached the finishing curves together, the bunch sprint was inevitable. Working off his final lead out from teammate Pete Groblewski, Beardsley pegged it early and opened up a huge gap that allowed him plenty of time to salute the excited crowd well before he crossed the line. Groblewski crossed the line next with time to celebrate as well. Rapha Racing's Chris Hamilton finished third.
The win caps Beardsley's amazing form as of late. He won the past two PIR Tuesday night races June 2 and 9; the first Mt. Tabor Wednesday Series race the next night on June 10; Fast Twitch Fridays on the Alpenrose Velodrome Friday, June 12; and then he followed it up one day later with the criterium win.
"It's been a good two weeks," he said. "Hopefully I can keep it rolling."
Beardsley credited his fine-tuned race form to a lot of training over the past two months and work with his coach Kenny "Cash Register" Williams, the legendary Washington criterium specialist and successful all-around racer.
Capa Racing's Joe Dengle of Corvallis took the Cat. 3 race, also with a finishing-straight burst that sent him across the line with a gap of several bike lengths. Mark Crawford (Ironclad Performance Wear) finished second ahead of Jimmy Udall (Courage).
CHECK BACK LATER FOR MORE PHOTOS.
Cirque du Cycling Criterium
Portland, Ore., June 13
1. Steven Beardsley (Gentle Lovers)
2. Pete Groblewski, (Gentle Lovers)
3. Chris Hamilton (Rapha Racing)
4. Cliff Heberlin (Guinness Cycling Team)
5. Christian Tresser (Cyclepath Racing)
6. Douglas Reid (Veloce/Felt)
7. Aaron Coker (HP Chiropractic/Hammer Nutrition)
8. Joel Wilson (Paul's Bicycle Way of Life)
9. David Gates (Bridgetown Velo)
10. Steve Schwaeber (Veloce/Felt)
1. Joe Dengle (Capa Racing)
2. Mark Crawford (Ironclad Performance Wear)
3. Jimmy Udall (Courage)
4. Joshua Creem (Portland Bicycle Studio)
5. Thomas Ghilarducci (bicycleattorney.com)
6. Scott Hill (Mob Squad)
7. Tom Simon (Specialized River City Bicycles)
8. David Sherman (Bridgetown Velo)
9. Matthew Heck (Cucina Fresca)
10. Andrew Willis (Ironclad Performance Wear)
You can find the complete OBRA results HERE.