News Times: Breaking away for the win
Author: Amanda Miles
Posted: July 22, 2013

Read the original article in the News Times here.

High risk, high reward.

That is often the case for breakaway riders in cycling races. The strategy works under the right conditions, resulting in a small group of riders dueling it out for a win or a solo rider crossing the finish line all alone.

But if a rider goes to the front too early or the chase group is organized in trying to close the gap, that advantage can get swallowed up in a hurry, leaving a rider with little to show in terms of results after some hard riding.

In Eric Sheagley’s case at the Montinore Road Race, a cycling event staged on a circuit course in rural Forest Grove on Sunday, going solo paid off.

At the start of the final lap of the men’s Category 1/2/3 race, Sheagley seized the lead. Despite having to battle crosswinds by himself over that final 10 kilometers, the 41-year-old Portland resident held his lead for the win.

“I’d hoped that I could hold it, but there were some really strong teams there, and I guess fortunately, they just didn’t do anything,” said Sheagley, a chemistry instructor at Portland State University. “So it was a lot of luck.”

Sunday marked the second annual edition of the Montinore Road Race. All races started at the Montinore Estate vineyard located off of Highway 47 just south of Forest Grove and finished on an uphill stretch of road nearby.

In between the start and finish lines, participants covered anywhere from four to 10 laps of a 10-kilometer course that meandered past nurseries, rural properties, fields of clover and wheat, the L-Bar-T Bison Farm — and plenty of vineyard land, of course.

Much of the course was relatively flat or gently rolling, but on Plumlee Road cyclists had to traverse a short but punchy hill at the end of every lap and then negotiate some tight corners on the descent back down at the start of each ensuing lap.

The Cat 1/2/3 race that Sheagley won was 10 laps of that 10K circuit. Midway through the race, another rider in the field, John Leonard, established a solo breakaway of his own. Unlike Sheagley’s, though, Leonard’s lead did not hold. After leading for about three laps, Leonard was caught by the field with about 20K to go. He eventually finished 24th.

With Sheagley riding strongly at the front, the rest of the field was left to settle out the places behind him. Cliff Heaberlin fared well as one of the best among the rest by finishing in third place. After Sheagley broke away, Heaberlin said, he was looking out for a couple of teams with multiple riders in the race to try to chase Sheagley down, but they did not organize.

“I wasn’t going to risk chasing, because I didn’t have any teammates with me, so it was just me,” the 32-year-old Heaberlin noted. “I’ve done that before, when I’ve gone hard and chased and next thing I know I’m out of energy and guys are flying by me.”

Instead, Heaberlin waited until the incline on the final lap to make his move.

“I just got on his wheel and followed,” Heaberlin said of one of his competitors. “It’s a short climb, but it felt long on the last lap just because a lot of things are happening.”

Another rider, Stephen Bedford, eventually passed Heaberlin on the way up, and Heaberlin stayed on his back wheel but could get no closer, so those two riders rounded out the podium in the division.

The women’s Category 1/2/3 race also included a sprint for the podium spots, and like Heaberlin, Leia Tyrrell ended up in third place. The 23-year-old Corvallis resident found herself among five riders battling up the final climb of the 80K race, won by Beth Ann Orton. Lelah O’Shaughnessy followed in second.

“Beth definitely got me at the finish,” said Tyrrell, the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association Women’s Prestige Series Cat 1/2/3 points leader. “She had a nice acceleration.”

The race kicked off a busy week of cycling for Tyrrell. On Tuesday, she was scheduled to begin competition in the Cascade Cycling Classic, a six-day stage race that annually draws some top-flight female cyclists to Central Oregon.

The Montinore Road Race also exorcised some demons for Tyrrell, this year’s OBRA women’s Cat 1/2/3 road race champion. Last year’s edition, she noted, was her first mass-start event after returning from a serious cycling accident two springs ago that left her in a coma for 11 days.

Last year, the Montinore event’s corners left her intimidated, and after she fell on one, she pulled herself from her race. But she had no such issues this time around.

“I was excited to redo it this year, because I knew this course suits me,” Tyrrell observed. “I like this course. I just couldn’t handle it last year.”

Sunday also was a pretty good day for Clint Ebert, a 53-year-old Forest Grove resident who competed in the masters men 50 and older Cat 1/2/3 division.

“I was happy because last year when I did it, I got dropped on the very first lap going up the hill,” he said. “This year was better.”

In fact, Ebert, who finished 10th in his division, said through five of eight laps he stuck with the main pack, which included riders in the masters men 35 and older Cat 1/2/3 division.

Paul Zagacki, one of Ebert’s teammates, had birthday plans after the race. He turned 42 on Saturday, but put off celebrations for a day so he could race in Forest Grove.

“I’m going to go home, pick up my daughter, take her to the Thorns game, try not to fall asleep at the Thorns game, come home and have a barbecue and try not to fall asleep at the barbecue,” the Lake Oswego resident said.

A little birthday fun after some cycling fun.

“I think it’s a great event,” said Zagacki, 14th in the masters men Cat 1/2/3 division. “The climb’s not too hard, steep enough to slow everybody down, but not too long. The downhill after the climb is actually harder than the climb because of the crosswinds and everybody’s going hard. The downhill hurt more than the climb.”

In addition to Sheagley and Orton, division winners were Adnan Kadir (masters men 35 and older Cat 1/2/3), Luis Valls (masters men 50 and older Cat 1/2/3), Daniel Lincoln (men Cat 4/5), Johnathan Sharp (masters men 35 and older Cat 4/5), Deann Garcia (women Cat 4/5) and Kitt Pratt (women 40 and older).