Olympic hopefuls will compete in Portland next week

Racing at Mt. Tabor
After a downtown time-trial on Tuesday,
racers will tackle Mt. Tabor.
(Photos © J. Maus)

The sixth annual Mt. Hood Cycling Classic will kick-off in Portland early next week. The event be the most prestigious professional cycling race ever held in the city.

Race director Chad Sperry says the race will be a qualifier for the Beijing Olympics and, with its prime place on the National Racing Calendar (NRC), it has been given the highest possible ranking (in terms of importance) on the U.S. racing circuit.

That ranking, says Sperry “Insures that every pro team in the U.S. will be here hunting down points for the national series.”

“It gives Americans a chance to see first hand who will represent the United States next this summer in Beijing.”
— Race director Chad Sperry

The event is especially important for pro women, because it is only one of three races in the nation where they can grab all-important UCI points — which could lead to Olympic glory.

“Being an international women’s race” says Sperry, “brings a whole new element to the event because it will be one of the final Olympic Qualifiers for the U.S. women…as a result we expect to racers from across North America and Europe to compete.”

Among the elite women expected to race are 11 time World champion, 20 time French champion, and Olympic gold medalist Jeannie Longo.

Local pro racer Doug Ollerenshaw, who rides for Rock Racing says unlike previous years, the Mt. Hood Classic doesn’t conflict with any other major races. That means all the top professional teams — like Health Net, Toyota, Jittery Joe’s, and Rock Racing — will send their best riders. “It will be a full-on NRC event and it will definitely be a quality field.”

Local pro Doug Ollerenshaw (R),
shown here with Ryan Trebon
at a race in downtown Portland
last summer.

The action begins on Tuesday with the first stage Prologue beginning at 4:00pm at Tom McCall Park. The race will consist of a 1.7 mile loop on Naito Parkway where racers will compete in an individual time-trial to determine their position on the overall general classification (the six-stage race is won by the person with the lowest overall time).

Then on Wednesday, the action moves to Mt. Tabor where a field of 130 racers will tackle a hilly, 1.3 mile circuit.

Ollerenshaw says the narrow, fast, and curvy course at Mt. Tabor gives him a bit of pause. “Tabor makes me quite nervous. That’s a big field size for such a narrow and fast course.” But he adds that locals will have an advantage, “We know how important it is to start near the front. There will be an accordian effect…and if you’re out in front you won’t get caught in the inevitable split [in the field]”.

Racing at Tabor, with the reservoir in the background.

With such a challenging course, Doug O says he hopes a lot of Portlanders show up watch the action. “If people come out, it will make it worthwhile.”

After Tabor, the racers move out to Hood River to complete the remaining four stages of the six stage event. $55,000 in cash prizes are up for grabs, and with 35,000 total feet of climbing, whoever is left at the end deserves every penny.


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*Volunteers are needed. If you can help, please email Tre Hendricks at mhcclassic [at] gmail [dot] com and read this press release for more information.

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