Posted by Pat Malach (Contributor) on April 6th, 2012 at 9:18 am
[This story comes from racing news contributor Pat Malach]
Team Oregon/Laurelwood Brewing’s Stephen Bedford started an early season winning streak by soloing away from the small Senior men’s field to win his second consecutive OBRA race. In the Senior women’s event, River City Bicycle’s Sue Butler rode away with Hilary Billington (Veloce/Smith&Nephew) and then outsprinted her breakaway partner up the closing climb to take the first race and the series lead.
The 1.2-mile counterclockwise loop around the park’s International Rose Test Garden utilizes parts of Kingston Avenue, Sherwood Boulevard and Rose Park Road to create a quick and technical circuit with 136 feet of elevation gain each lap. Slippery roads that are crowned in the center for drainage caused a few minor crashes, but for the most part riders figured out the course quickly and avoided trouble as rain generally held off for the two hours of racing, which started at 6:10 p.m. Four fields representing 10 age- and skill-graded categories competed throughout the evening. The last race started at 7:10.
Here are a few more photos of the action (see the full gallery here):
In the Senior women’s race, Butler and Billington slipped away from the field on the second lap and steadily added to their winning advantage throughout the scheduled 30-minuite race. Lindsay Fox (Athlete’s Lounge) chased with Sorella Forte’s Emily Charbonneau until the Sorella rider went down in the sweeping lefthand corner about a quarter of the way through the second lap, leaving Fox to try and chase down the two leaders on her own. But it wasn’t in the cards on this day, and Butler took her first win of the season by climbing away from Billington as they approached the finish together. Fox crossed the line next for third.
Bedford rode less than a lap in the group before he fled the Senior men’s field in search of another OBRA win. The Banana Belt #3 winner decimated the men’s field with an early attack that caught most of the peloton off-guard. Veloce/Smith&Nephew’s Michael Benno was the lone rider to set off after Bedford, while the rest of the field required a lap or two to settle in for the chase. Just as in the women’s race earlier, the chasing efforts were wasted as Bedford rode solidly to the finish and never appeared to be under duress. Benno stayed close but slowly lost ground, finishing about 45 seconds behind the winner. Team Oregon’s Christopher Dubois led the rest of the field home more than a minute later.
The series continues at Washington Park Thursday nights through April. The local racing season is heating up; check the OBRA schedule for all the details.
[Thanks to Pat Malach for the story and photos. Follow his racing coverage from throughout Oregon all season long on Oregon Cycling Action.]