Anchored by the strong legs and local knowledge of Ian Boswell, the young Bontrager LIVESTRONG team once again showed their depth as they wrapped up the team classification title on Sunday at the conclusion of the Cascade Cycling Classic. Boswell finished thirteenth overall, 1 minute 27 seconds behind overall winner Francisco Mancebo, and was just one of six (!) Bontrager LIVESTRONG riders to finish inside the top 20 in the general classification. Boswell rode to an impressive second place during the 76-mile McKenzie Pass Road Race, narrowly losing a sprint to Mancebo. Two days later the young riders on Bontrager LIVESTRONG dominated the 92-mile Cascade Lakes Road Race and captured the top three finishing spots. The team, founded by Lance Armstrong and directed by Axel Merckx, truly is a squad “for the next generation of professional cyclists,” as their Facebook page states.
Also of note from the CCC was the presence and early departure of women's Olympic hope, Kristin Armstrong. The 38-year-old Olympic gold medalist won the first three stages of the race, faded to finish eleventh in the Cascade Lakes Road Race and then abandoned the race before the crit in order to stay safe, rest up and prepare for her upcoming race in London. She is among the favorites to win the Olympic road race.
Chris Horner's Tour de France
Local boy and veteran of the peloton, Chris Horner, 40, finished the Tour de France a very respectable thirteenth, 19 minutes and 55 seconds down from winner Bradley Wiggins, who last week became the first Brit to ever win the fabled race. Horner's consistently strong riding, particularly in the mountains and in the final time trial, helped RadioShack-Nissan secure the team’s overall win. The Bend native, along with fellow American and elder statesmen of the peloton George Hincapie (who's retiring this year), were honored on the final day and allowed to lead the tired pack across the finish line as the racers hit the Champs Elysees.
This 99th edition of the tour wasn't all roses for Horner, though.
When his teammate and good friend, Frank Schleck, was tossed from the race for a positive doping test, Horner sounded off.
According to Horner, WADA, the World Anti-Doping Association has gone overboard. First, two-time Tour champion Alberto Contador was served a two-year ban for what the Spaniard alleges was ingestion of tainted meat. Now Schleck is under fire after testing positive for xipamide, a diuretic. Though well intentioned, WADA has racers running scared.
“During this Tour de France, I probably took 30 Cokes and 30 bottles from guys on the side of the road that I don’t have any idea who they are. And I drank them anyways,” Horner said, sitting on the road after the mountaintop finish of stage 17,” said Horner in a recent Velo News interview.
With no assurance of clean food and drink while racing and traveling, many of the peloton's most respected riders are fearful that they'll be the next ones to be accused of wrongdoing. Professional bike racers are among the most tested athletes in the world and must regularly submit to both random tests and in-competition tests. We may never know if Contador and Schleck knowingly ingested banned substances. But one thing is certain—WADA needs an overhaul.
In the meantime, expect to see Horner, who claims this was his best tour to date, continue to race and train as he preps for next year's Tour de France.
Elevated: The High Cascades 100
The fourth annual 100-mile mountain bike race, held on July 21, was again a stop on the National Endurance Series, and tested the mettle of some the country's top long-distance specialists. In the end, it was Oregonians who won both the men's and women's pro races.
Local knowledge proved valuable as Bend's Barry Wicks was the first across the finish line (7 hours, 22 minutes, 15 seconds) his second N.U.E. victory of the season. Riders from all over the nation, however, raved about Bend's trails.
After more than eight hours of racing, Hood River's Alice Pennington won out by just over a minute in a scrappy battle with Bend's Serena Bishop-Gordon, who recently won a national championship title in her 30-35 age category. Pennington finished in 8 hours, 51 minutes, 32 seconds and Bishop-Gordon followed in 8:52.46.
“For the second half we were not riding together at all but were never that far apart,” said Bishop-Gordon. “She was just faster than me.”
Bonacker is back!
We're happy to report that Gary Bonacker, Sunnyside Sports co-owner, Tour des Chutes founder and all around inspirational and awesome guy is out of the Intensive Care Unit. Though he's still in the hospital recovering from a relentless bout of seizures brought on by his brain tumor, Bonacker is on the mend, according to his wife and fellow Sunnyside co-owner, Susan Bonacker.
“Gary still has a long road ahead, but what I'm most excited about, and, now that I think of it, most proud of, is that he's fighting mad and wants the hell out of the hospital,” Susan wrote earlier in the week.
Keep fighting Gary—we're with you.