Shane Kline thought he had it, though he was not certain enough to celebrate right away.
But shortly after he crossed the finish line on Wall Street in Bend on Saturday night, the public-address announcer declared him the winner of the Downtown Twilight Criterium in a photo finish.
Kline, of Rally Cycling, just barely held off Miguel Bryon of Holowesko-Citadel to win Stage 4 of the pro men’s Cascade Cycling Classic. Joseph Lewis, also of Holowesko-Citadel, finished third.
“It was close, but I just got it,” said Kline, 28 and from Bally, Pennsylvania. “I love it when you come into the last few laps of a race, and you just kind of get that tunnel vision because everyone is screaming so loud. It’s a feeling you only get at a few races, and the crowd here tonight was awesome.”
A group of about 20 riders got into a break during the 75-minute criterium, which included a 1-mile circuit on Wall Street, Oregon Avenue, Bond Street and Idaho Avenue in downtown Bend.
Rally drove the front of the main pack hard to catch the breakaway with about five laps to go as the sun dipped below the buildings on a toasty evening.
On the final turn from Idaho to Wall, Kline sat in third position. He did not wait long to make his move on the straightaway to the finish.
“I knew I didn’t want to wait very long, because you get up to speed real quick,” he said.
“So pretty much as soon as we came out of the turn, I just accelerated right from then. I just kicked it and prayed I could hold it to the line.”
The finish photo showed Kline winning by about the width of a tire. The win was the first UCI-level victory for Kline.
“The guys just did an awesome chase,” Kline said of his Rally teammates. “They timed it right. They pulled it back right when it needed to be caught. The guys were amazing. There was no way I would have had a shot at the sprint if it wasn’t for them.”
Bryon, meanwhile, was disappointed he did not catch Kline, as he came out of the final corner a little too far back. If the race was a few feet longer, he probably would have won.
“I was coming with a lot of speed but I knew I didn’t have enough distance,” Bryon said.
Gavin Mannion of UnitedHealthcare maintained his overall lead in the CCC going into Sunday’s final stage, the 81-mile Awbrey Butte Circuit Race in Bend. He has just a one-second lead on Robin Carpenter of Holowesko-Citadel, who was in the breakaway for a while early Saturday night.
“We can still get the yellow jersey,” Bryon said. “We’re not scared. We’ll bring the heat (Sunday).”
In the women’s criterium, Claire Rose of Great Britain broke away solo with about six laps to go in the 50-minute race and held the lead all the way to the finish for an impressive stage win, her second of this CCC. She also won the Skyliners Time Trial on Thursday.
“It was a hard race,” Rose said. “Lots of attacks from Rally right from the gun. I just kind of took my opportunity to go with a solo attack, and I stuck it to the finish. I’m really pleased. I was surprised there wasn’t anyone with me. But I gave it my best shot, and I’m really happy.”
Kendall Ryan of Team Tibco finished second, nine seconds back, and Allison Beveridge of Rally Cycling was third, also nine seconds back.
Rose said she concentrated on pacing and making the most of every corner as she rode alone for the final few laps.
“I love crit racing in the U.S., because you get such great crowds,” Rose said. “It always helps to have a lot of support from the crowd.”
Allie Dragoo of Sho-Air Twenty20 kept the overall women’s lead and she goes into Sunday’s circuit race with a 16-second advantage on Sara Poidevin of Rally.
— Reporter: 541-383-0318, email@example.com