This weekend’s Cross Crusade races in Bend’s Old Mill District will draw cyclists of all ages and ability levels from across the state and beyond. With the possibility of 1,000 or so riders competing each day, keeping tabs on them all of them will be a challenge. But just three races into the 2012 Cross Crusade eight-race series, a number of Central Oregon residents are sitting at or near the top of the series overall standings and are worth keeping an eye on. (Not all riders listed below are confirmed to participate this weekend.)
Chris Sheppard, of Bend: A mountain biking pro, Sheppard is familiar to Central Oregon cycling fans. The Canadian finished second in the BC Bike Race, a mountain bike stage race in British Columbia, earlier this year, narrowly missing his third consecutive title in the event. In this year’s Cross Crusade, Sheppard has won both races he has contested, at Alpenrose and Portland International Raceway. He enters this weekend’s races tied with Molly Cameron for first place in the men’s Category A overall standings.
Sarah Max, of Bend: Central Oregonians may know her better as a cross-country skiing standout, but Max has enjoyed a solid cyclocross season so far this fall. She opened the Cross Crusade series with a third-place finish in the masters women 35+ A division at Alpenrose before sweeping the next two races to open a 19-point lead in the overall standings. Max could add to that lead this weekend.
Lance Haidet, Javier Colton and Cameron Beard, all of Bend: Central Oregon is home to some of the top junior riders in the state, including these three boys, who are currently first, third and fifth in the junior men’s standings and are expected to race this weekend. Beard won the season-opening Alpenrose Cross Crusade on Oct. 7, before Haidet, who beat a number of older riders to win the men’s Category B race the same day, took the next two junior men’s races. Colton has been steady with third-, fourth- and fifth-place finishes thus far.
Ivy Taylor, of Bend: Taylor has finished in the top four in all three junior women’s 2012 Cross Crusade races to date. She placed fourth to open the series at Alpenrose before landing atop the podium in Rainier and finishing third this past weekend at PIR. She takes a slim five-point lead in the series standings into this weekend’s races.
Andrew Sargent and Tim Jones, of Bend: In 2011, Sargent dominated the masters men 35+ A division in the Cross Crusade, winning five of the eight races and finishing second in another. He appears primed for a successful 2012 as well. After finishing third at Alpenrose, Sargent has won the past two races. Also a Bend resident, Jones was the winner of that Alpenrose race and is currently second behind Sargent in the overall standings — which is also where he finished in 2011.