(The complete Cycling Action photo gallery for this race is now posted online HERE).
New Zealander Marina Duvnjak, who recently joined the Jazz Apple Cycling Team for a swing through the national championship road race in Philly and the NRC Nature Valley Grand Prix in Minnesota, stopped by Portland long enough to take the Pro/1/2/3 Women's event in front of a charging field Saturday at the Swan Island Criterium.
The pace of the 45-minute women's race ebbed and flowed as attacks that dangled off the front strung things out before it bunched back together when the escapees were brought back.
With no breaks able to stay away, the group settled in during the final laps for the inevitable bunch sprint. That's when Duvnjak nailed it from the final corner into the long finishing straight and held off Hammer Velo's Sam Yeo in second and Flywheel Bicycle Solutions' Jade Wilcoxson in third.
In the Pro/1/2 Men's race, Team Oregon's Kennett Peterson, who also competed in Minnesota's Nature Valley race, opened a small gap from a five-rider breakaway on the final lap and just managed to hold off a chasing Evan Elken (Land River-ORBEA) for the win.
The larger field contesting the men's race made team dynamics more of a factor, and when a five-man break containing members of the strongest teams got away about halfway through the race and started to make it stick, it was clear the teams that had missed the move lacked the horsepower to pull it back.
Joining Peterson and Elken off the front were Cyclepath Racing's sprinter Christian Tresser, Hutch's Paul Bourcier (who finished third earlier in the Masters race), and HPChiropractic's Patrick Marzullo.
The speedsters worked fluidly, and they quickly built a lead that hovered between 15-20 seconds; eventually out of sight of the pack on the long finishing straight. Then, with the lead secured, the cat-and-mouse games started on the last lap as each escapee hoped to turn his hard work into a win.
"With about a half a lap to go I decided to take it up a level," Peterson said. "Paul Bourcier actually gave me a tiny gap, and I pulled off to the side with about 3/4 of a lap to go and I was just coasting. Paul yelled at me. I think he yelled, 'That was a gift. Go!'"
Peterson, who had been applying pressure on and off the front since the opening whistle, took the gift and drilled it all the way to the line, but not before having to fight off Elken, the Land Rover team leader who recently finished 15th in the field sprint at the 156-mile national championship road race in Philly.
"Evan caught me with like 50 meters to go," Peterson said. "I guess he used up most of his sprint to catch me. Then I just barely held him off. I thought he had it, actually."
But the photo finish went to Peterson by inches. Elken was second, just ahead of Tresser, Bourcier and Marzullo, respectively. HPChiropractic's Aaron Coker won the field sprint for sixth.
Team tactics played an important role in the Masters Men 40/50+ event when a small breakaway, with many of the race's most powerful teams represented, got just enough of gap to dangle dangerously off the front late in the race.
With strongman John Browning representing Cycelepath, Bourcier for Hutch's, and Nike's Steve Wright's presence shutting down riders in the pack like teammate Mark Steger, the field could only come close to closing the gap.
Wright took the sprint in front of Browning and Bourcier with the rest nipping at their heels. NoMad Sports Club's David Hopper was fourth. Veloce/Felt's Dan Quirk was fifth.
The team game was also important in the Cat. 3 Men's race, but it played out in much different fashion. With the pack closing in on the finish together, teammates were forced to chase down last-minute break attempts or set a high tempo on the front to discourage them. But nobody helped anybody win this race by holding back.
In a race filled with attacks early and often, the seven-man Ironclad Performace Wear team made it's presence known early. The black-and-yellow squad kept the pace high with constant attacking and doomed the chances of anyone else who tried by stacking the front and chasing.
The team's plan began coming together in earnest as the field started the closing lap and riders who had been sitting in the field came to the front to form a three-rider lead out with sprinter Ryan Smith sitting fourth wheel when they got the bell.
Unable to foil Ironclad's unfolding plan, the rest of the field watched Smith cross the line first with the final leadout man pumping his fist behind. Gentle Lovers Jonathan Vinson finished second, while Capa Cycling Team's Joe Dengle was third.
The Capa Cycling Team had a good day at Sawn Island, with Dengle's third place combined with recent phenom Leia Tyrrell's victory in the Cat. 4 Women's race, which was the fourth stop in the 2009 Veloforma Norman Babcock Cat 4 Women's Series presented by Garmin. Tyrrell ads to her wins at Mt. Tabor and PIR. She finished ahead of Nissy Cobb (Sum Bike Team) and Kalli Phillips of Poplollies.
In the Cat. 4/5 Men's race, Word-RCB pulled off the double with Alex Lightman and Stephen Bedford crossing the line one-two, respectively. Portland Velo's Jeff Ballantine finished third.
Swan Island Criterium
Portland, June 27
1. Sam Rosenberg (Hutch's)
2. Grant McElroy (Beaverton Bicycle Club)
3. Walker Prettyman (Beaverton Bicycle Club)
4. Hannah McDade (Beaverton Bicycle Club)
5. Aaron King
1. Joe Prettyman (Beaverton Bicycle Club)
2. Colby Wait-Molyneaux (North River Racing)
3. Robert Platt
4. Steven anderson (Fred Meyer/Lakeside Cycling Team)
5. Lance Pugh (Beaverton Bicycle Club)
Cat. 4 Women
1. Leia Tyrrell (Capa Cycling Team)
2. Nissy Cobb (Sum Bike Team)
3. Kalli Phillips (Poplollies)
4. Deann Krill (Ironclad Performance Wear)
5. Jenn levo (Bridgetown Velo)
(*Race #4 of the 2009 Veloforma Norman Babcock Cat. 4 Women's Series presented by Garmin)
Cat. 4/5 Men
1. Alex Lightman (Word-RCB)
2. Stephen bedford (Word-RCB)
3. Jeff Ballantine (Portland Velo)
4. Juan Cagampang (Hammer Velo)
5. Curtis Bergquist
Cat. 3 Men
1. Ryan Smith (Ironclad Performance Wear)
2. Jonathan Vinson (Gentle Lovers)
3. Joe Dengle (Capa Cyclig team)
4. Robin Wessell= (Team Oregon)
5. Steve Wilssens (Wines of Washington)
Masters Men 40/50+
1. Steve Wright (Nike)
2. John Browning (Cyclepath Racing)
3. Paul Bourcier (Htuch's/OIC)
4. David Hopper (NoMad Sports Club)
5. Dan Quirk (Veloce/Felt)
1. Marina Duvnjak (D Jazz Apple)
2. Sam Yeo (Hammer Velo)
3. Jade Wilcoxson (Flywheel Bicycle Solutions)
4. Heather Hill (Trek Store of St. Louis)
5. Amy Campbell ((River City Bicycles)
1. Kennett Peterson (Team Oregon)
2. Evan Elken (Land Rover/ORBEA Benefiting The Lance Armstrong Foundation)
3. Christian Tresser (Cyclepath Racing)
4. Paul Bourcier (Hutch's/OIC)
5. Patrick Marzullo (HPChiropractic)