The stages for the 38th annual Cascade Cycling Classic this Wednesday through next Sunday will look much the same as last year’s race, with a few exceptions.

Most notable among the changes, the 2017 CCC marks the return of the Skyliners Time Trial. A 14.3-mile out-and-back route along Skyliners Road in west Bend, the stage starts at Pacific Crest Middle School and finishes at William E. Miller Elementary School. The time trial is the second stage of the Cascade, and the pro men, pro women, and Cat 2/3 men will all race in it, starting at 10 a.m. Thursday.

The Skyliners Time Trial was part of the CCC for several years until 2012, when, because of road construction and poor road quality, it was scrapped and replaced by the Crooked River Time Trial in Prineville. With construction on a water pipeline finished, and the addition of new pavement and bike lanes, the upgraded Skyliners Road should be an ideal time trial course.

The CCC’s amateur time trials were staged on Skyliners Road last year, but the pros raced in Prineville on a 16-mile course that cut along the Crooked River. The Skyliners course includes a gradual climb of about 900 feet before riders turn around and descend back the way they came.

“The Prineville course is a great, great course, but a lot of the riders really like the Skyliners Time Trial, even though it has an elevation gain,” says CCC race director Chad Sperry. “I love the staging opportunity (of the Skyliners course), I love the view, and I love being so close to Bend, too. It’s great to be able to have that just right on the outskirts of town to make it easy for the logistics of the riders.”

Another change for this year’s CCC is to the start of Wednesday’s Stage 1, the McKenzie Pass Road Race. Last year, both the pro men’s and women’s fields started at Smith Rock State Park in Terrebonne. But due to anticipated large summer crowds at Smith Rock, this year the pro men will start at Crook County High School in Prineville, and the women will start at Prineville Reservoir State Park.

“Smith Rock State Park is getting to be so busy,” Sperry says. “They (park officials) were very gracious last year in letting us use that, but I could tell it was stressing them out. They’re getting loved to death out there.”

The reroute also allows for a more scenic route in the early parts of the stage, according to Sperry.

Now, Sperry observes, the stage follows state Highway 27, which meanders along the Crooked River Canyon and passes Bowman Dam and Prineville Reservoir. “It’s part of the old time trial course, but the time trial didn’t go that far south.”

Another change for the 2017 Cascade is the finishing location for Friday’s Stage 3, the Cascade Lakes Road Race. In recent years, the stage has finished at either Mt. Bachelor’s Sunrise or West Village lodge. This year, the races will finish several miles east of Mount Bachelor at Kapka Butte Sno-park, located near the junction of Century Drive and Forest Road 45.

Sperry says this change allows for the riders and caravans to avoid having to turn back onto Cascade Lakes Highway during a high-traffic time on a Friday afternoon. The new finish, along a sustained ascent, also might be a boon for strong climbers.

“It will be a little bit different dynamic,” Sperry says. “You had the climb up to Mount Bachelor, then you had a pretty long, flat section up to the finish (in previous years). It was often a sprint finish. This will be a sustained climb all the way to the right-hand turn into the finish. It will be a little bit more of an advantage to the climbers than we’ve had in years past.”

The final two stages, Saturday’s Downtown Criterium and next Sunday’s Awbrey Butte Circuit Race, both in Bend, remain the same as in previous years, save for earlier start times.

The pro women will start the criterium at 5:10 p.m. and the pro men will start at 6:30 p.m., about half an hour earlier than last year. Sunday’s final stage will start at 11 a.m. for the pro men and 11:50 a.m. for the pro women. Both of those races formerly started at about 1 p.m.

— Reporter: 541-383-0318, mmorical@bendbulletin.com

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