The 38th Annual Cascade Cycling Classic will host 31 men’s teams and 14 women’s teams for the 5-day stage race that begins July 19 and ends on Sunday, July 23. The longest running stage race in the United States will see both rising stars and veterans arrive in Bend, Oregon, including WorldTour riders, current national champions, and past winners.
For the first time in its history, both the professional men and women’s races will be a UCI 2.2 level event on the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour domestic calendar. The race will boast one of the most diverse fields with a mix of professional continental, national, regional, and club teams participating.
A number of teams will be racing Cascade for the first time. Team Rwanda will make their return to the United States since 2007, thanks to the help of a local business. Other foreign teams competing include Mexico’s Canel’s Specialized and Movistar Team Ecuador, both returning after racing earlier this season at Gila, and several Canadian teams including Silber Pro Cycling and H&R Block Pro Cycling Team. In the women’s race, the New Zealand Cycling Team and Desjardins Ford, also from Canada, will be on the starting line.
“It’s definitely the best fields we’ve ever seen at Cascade Cycling Classic for sure,” Chad Sperry said, now in his 11th year as race director. “The overall thing that has impressed me is the sheer magnitude of teams wanting to get in the race! We’ve never had quite these volumes of teams wanting to come race the event. To have to turn a number of teams away, and still have 31 men’s teams is pretty impressive.”
2016 overall winner, Robin Carpenter of Holowesko | Citadel will be returning to defend his title. The squad will boast TJ Eisenhart, the current leader of the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour, as another option for the GC. Australian, Joe Lewis, winner of the downtown twilight criterium last year, will also be returning to Bend.
“I think it’s great that the race has stepped up to the UCI level,” Carpenter said. “Cascade is a great race; it’s tough, requires strength and tactical awareness. I think TJ and I will both be riding for the GC; the courses suit both of us, and it will be good to have two guys within striking distance, especially on the last day. I’m coming into it with the expectation of successfully defending the jersey from last year.”
Holowesko will have plenty of competition, mainly from Rally Cycling who has been on a winning streak this season, nearly sweeping the stages at Tour of the Gila, winning two stages at the Amgen Tour of California, and winning the overall at Northstar. Evan Huffman will likely be their GC contender.
Not to be outdone, UnitedHealthcare listed Janier Acevedo and Gavin Mannion on their roster as strong GC contenders, while Canyon Bicycles Shimano’s Francisco Mancebo returns, back-to-back winner in 2011/2012. Jelly Belly p/b MAXXIS also has a two-time winner, Sergei Tvetcov, returning to Bend.
An exciting addition to this year’s race is the men’s USA National Team. WorldTour riders Peter Stetina and Kiel Reijnen of Trek Segafredo, and Alex Howes of Cannondale Drapac, will be wearing the stars and stripes next week, prepping for the Vuelta a España later this summer.
“We aren’t racing the Tour de France this year, and in the WorldTour, there aren’t many races in July besides the Tour,” Stetina said. “As WorldTour riders we can compete in non-team events for our national teams. We reached out to USAC, and they supported us 100%.”
Stetina won the KOM and Best Young Rider jerseys racing as U23 with the Garmin Development Team years ago. His father, Dale Stetina, is a two-time winner in 1983 and 1984.
“I love coming back to my roots and the races that helped me get stronger,” Stetina added. “The week in Bend during Cascade was always fond memories. What better way to keep some racing rhythm than some hard stages followed by recover floats on the Deschutes River with some of our best friends!”
In the women’s race, Tara Whitten will not be returning to defend her overall win last year. Kristen Armstrong returned to retirement after the Rio Olympics last summer, while Carmen Small has been recovering from injury and spending time overseas. Thus, the GC battle is wide open.
Rally Cycling will be returning with a strong squad, mirroring much of the success of their men’s team this season. Their 8-rider squad boasts both the Best Young Rider and Points Classification jersey winners from 2016, Sara Poidevin and Sara Bergen. Newly crowned US National Crit Champion, Erica Allar, will be one to watch for Stage 4 as well.
Also, with a full squad in Bend, will be Team Colavita. While the team has missed success on paper this season, they can never be discounted. Cyclocross star, Ellen Noble, landed on the podium twice at Northstar last month and could contend for the GC. Emma Grant has had several top ten finishes since Gila, while Abby Mickey and Amber Pierce will also be dangerous threats.
Other teams to watch for the overall general classification are Cylance Pro Cycling with Katie Antonneau and Alison Tetrick, Sho-Air TWENTY20’s Jasmine Glaesser and Allie Dragoo, and Team Tibco with Kathryn Buss. Visit Dallas DNA Cycling returns with British National TT Champion, Claire Rose, and Kathryn Donovan as likely leaders of the team.
New addition to the Hagen Berman Supermint squad, Tarah Cole, will be looking to showcase her talent on the bike after holding the best amateur jersey at Redlands earlier this season. The team will likely be seeking opportunities other than the GC, bringing a small 4-woman squad.
“Everybody wants to come race their bike in Bend, Oregon in July,” Sperry said. “Road cycling is on a bit of decline right now, from grassroots to the pro levels. To have more teams than we can even offer spots for, to have that interest level is a testament to our area. I think the diversity of the stages, and the quality lends itself to the success of constantly having strong fields show up.”
2017 Leader Jerseys