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Canadians claim cycling titles

June 8, 2005

"I have heard over and over how much the riders loved the venue, the community, the spectacular scenery, and the outstanding volunteers. So many riders have already said this was the best race they have ever been in."— Chad Sperry, 2005 Mt. Hood Cycling Classic Event Director.

After four days, five stages, and almost 200 miles of intense racing action, two Canadian cyclists took home the 2005 Mt. Hood Cycling Classic pro-titles.

In the men's division, Svein Tuft (Symmetricts) of Langley, British Columbia, won the series with a combined time of just over 7 hours and 47 minutes.

For the women, Leah Goldstein (Trek/Red Truck Beer) won with a combined time of just over 8 hours and 15 minutes.

Tuft peddled his way to victory by winning stages one (Panorama Point Prologue) and three (Scenic Gorge Time Trial). His third place finish in the Downtown Hood River Criterium, seventh place finish in the Cooper Spur Circuit Race, and seventh place finish in the final Three Summits Race was enough to seal the victory.

Solid team Symmetrics racing secured the victory for Tuft. "We were at the head of the field coming into the last hill. I worked to get around strong riders like Andy Bajidali, and it was a real team effort," Tuft says. "The team was unreal. We rode together great, and they took the hit for me when I needed to make my move. When the time came to take off, I hit it hard. That final leg, I drilled it, especially the final 200 meters … It's an excellent event. It's well organized, and they look out for the riders' safety. The courses are awesome.

In the Men's Pro division Andy Bajidali (Vitamin Cottage) finished second overall, John Hunt (Cal Giant/Village Peddler) finished third, Justin England (Healthnet) finished fourth, and Barry Wicks (Kona Les Gets) rounded off the top five.

Goldstein took a more individual path the podium in the pro female division. She took first place in the Scenic Gorge Time Trial, first in the Three Summits Race, first in the Cooper Spur Circuit Race, third in the Downtown Hood River Criterium, and sixth in the Panorama Point Prologue.

Goldstein had trouble in stages three and four of the Classic. She lost her chain in the Gorge Time Trial and in the Downtown Criterium the Ford-Basis ladies held her back to from the lead.

"When I finished the Time Trial, I was so frustrated I felt like throwing my bike," Goldstein said. "But it turned out I had a good time. At the Criterium, they took care of me there pretty well, too."

In the fifth and final stage, Goldstein sealed her victory with an outstanding individual performance. "This is my kind of course," she said about Stage five. "I'm a strong climber. This course reminded me of the professional races you see in France."

Top five finishers for the Women's Pro division were Chrissy Ruiter (Ford-Basis) in second, Irene Mercer (Tamarack) third, Alisha Lion (Ford-Basis) fourth, and Mara Abbott (Whitman College) fifth.

Downtown Hood River Stage

Stage four, the Downtown Hood River Criterium, was by far the most popular stage of the race for spectators this year. Thousands flocked to lower downtown to watch racers tear around the short, tight course lap after lap.

Racers packed tightly at the starting line, antsy in anticipation of the most technical stage of the race. They charged hard, stimulating even the most indifferent spectators with their impressive speed for such a tight and crowded course.

"I was really impressed," said spectator Nick Reed after the race. "I couldn't believe they could pack that many riders onto such a small course. I particularly liked the ‘Carnage Corner’. I saw plenty of wrecks there, but no one got hurt so it was fun to watch."

Carnage corner was the steep, hairpin corner turning right from Wasco to Industrial.

"I'm here to cheer for Alice and Luke (Pennington)," Hood River local Sara Breeze said during the race. "After watching the first group of riders I'm a little nervous for them."

Pedals scraped hard on the pavement as racers leaned as far as their skinny black tires would allow without slipping out. A handful of riders lost traction, skidding to a painful stop on the pavement and dropping the jaws of spectators crowded around Carnage Corner. Fortunately, everyone that hit the pavement rode away with nothing more than a little road rash. As those that did crash grabbed their bikes and rode away, the heartening Hood River crowd cheered them on in good spirit.

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