The quiet streets of Union became crowded Friday as hundreds of cyclists rolled through town during the first stage of the Baker City Classic race. (Brad Mosher/The Observer)
Hundreds of cyclists speed through Union in first stage of race
UNION — It was a quiet Friday afternoon in Union — except when waves of cyclists cruised through the small town on the first part of a three-day bicycle competition.
The annual Baker City Classic started with a 71-mile stage from Baker High School that sent hundreds of cyclists through North Powder and into Union.
They rode quickly out of town, turning for the long climb past Catherine Creek State Park on the way back to the finish in Baker City.
With temperatures in the mid-90s along the course, it was more than a test of endurance for many of the riders, climbing from Union to the highest point on the stage at almost 4,200-feet.
When it was over, Dominic Clay of La Grande took seventh in the first stage of the classic, finishing in 3 hours, 19 minutes and 24 seconds.
Clay came back Saturday to finish ninth in the second stage, a 10-mile time trial through Baker City in 24:26.97.
Later in the day, Clay came back with a strong performance in the criterium, taking fifth.
That moved Clay to fourth overall in the competition, less than five minutes behind the Category 4 leader.
Clay saved his best for last — the fourth-stage, 102-mile climb of Dooley Mountain.
He won the final stage by several minutes, moving up to second overall in the competition.
While Clay was having a good weekend, two other La Grande cyclists had more of a struggle.
Zach Heath and Brian Sather finished in the top 45 Friday.
Heath placed 29th in the Pro Category 1 and 2 race, finishing in 3:00.37 — just four minutes behind the stage winner, Brad Winn. Sather finished 44th, with a time of 3:09.18 for the Catherine Creek stage.
Both Heath and Sather had problems on Saturday during the criterium when a rider collided with them. The accident left Heath with facial cuts and bruises, according to reports on twitter.
As of the third stage, Heath was 28th overall in the Pro Category 1 and 2.
Steve Fisher won the overall competition with a final-stage victory Sunday. Fisher broke away from Trevor Spahr, the leader going into the fourth stage on the climb up Dooley Mountain.
Fisher grabbed third place in the time trial and second in the criterium Saturday, setting the stage for his come-from-behind win. Fisher was ninth after the first stage.
Brad Winn won the first stage in the Pro Category 1 and 2 division, while Trevor Spahr came in second.
Leiea Tyrell of Ironclad/Yakima won the women’s Pro Category 1 and 2 competition, by winning the first two stages and staying close to the leaders on the final two stages.