Canmore’s Queen of the Mountain has conquered the Oregon Trail.
Sara Poidevin claimed the first stage win of her career and finished second overall in the general classification (GC) at the Cascade Cycling Classic, Sunday (July 23) in Oregon.
For the second year in a row, 21-year-old Poidevin captured the best young rider jersey on the coveted, five-stage tour, and also added the Queen of the Mountain jersey to her growing repertoire of trophies. The result solidifies her standing as one of North America’s most promising cycling prospects.
Forever modest, Poidevin deferred credit to her Rally Cycling teammates after winning one of the biggest road races in North America.
“It was definitely a great week for the team. After the first stage, we were sitting one, two, so we were in the yellow jersey from the start. That was the priority for the week. We focused on getting it back after losing it in the time trial.
“We were pretty close in the end and didn’t quite manage to get it back, but we came away with all of the other jerseys,” Poidevin said.
Entering the final stage, Poidevin found herself 16 seconds off the overall lead, which was held by Allie Dragoo and team Sho-Air Twenty20. Poidevin needed the stage win time bonus to earn the overall GC title, and her teammates immediately went to work to make that happen. Dragoo found herself under attack for much of the race, as the Rally riders did their best to wear her down.
An early break by Rally rider Heidi Franz softened the peloton, which later shattered under the unrelenting pace. Kristy Lay and Poidevin caught the breakaway group, and set up a battle on the final hill.
In a dominant display of power and determination, Poidevin edged the field by an inch at the line for her first stage win.
Dragoo finished third, and had just enough left to hold onto the general classification win over Poidevin.
“It doesn’t come very often, to be in contention for the GC win or stage win. It’s really cool to have that opportunity,” Poidevin said.
“This week was another great display of the progress this group has made,” said Team Director Zach Bell. “Three of our riders came away with their first UCI win, and we swept all the secondary jerseys. It was also good to see Sara Poidevin step up to the challenge of being a real general classification contender. This week was a glimpse into the future of women’s racing in North America.”
An excellent climber, Poidevin had targeted the Cascade Cycling Classic and Tour of Colorado as her best shots at a strong result this season. That was thrown into question earlier this season, when she broke her elbow in a training crash. She had another training crash upon her return, but is now in top condition.
“I’m definitely feeling much healthier. I felt good racing this week. The only thing missing was practice. That was what was holding me back,” Poidevin said.
While in Bend, she also found herself in the middle of a longstanding cycling controversy, which a six-year-old Bend, Oregon girl named Ruth set to rectify.
“It was really sweet. Her mom had told her about the difference in prize money between the men and the women. It was pretty significant. The little girl set up a lemonade stand and raised $104 and donated it to the stage women,” Poidevin said.
Once Ruth’s story caught fire, local Bend businesses raised money to ensure the womens’ purse equaled the mens’.
“There’s always reasons to suggest a difference in terms of field size. Of course it’s unfair. But I think this past week was an example of how bringing up the topic can get people talking about it and make a difference,” Poidevin said. “It was really incredible.”
The Canmorite received plenty of Bow Valley support during the race. Messages and well wishes from local cyclists flooded her inbox, as she pushed for her first GC win.
“Through the week, I’ve had so many family and friends in Canmore message me. My mom was camping near Bend. She never gets to watch me race, and it was nice to have her supporting me,” Poidevin said.
She also developed a soft spot for Bend, Oregon.
“Bend is such a cool place. The whole community is so active. Everybody got together to support us. We stayed in host houses, and our hosts were out to cheer us on. It was really cool.”
She’ll spend a week in Canmore, and will have a chance to cheer on her younger sister Eva, who is off to Canada Summer Games. The older sister will then travel to Colorado for a week of acclimatization before the race.
“There was lots of climbing in this race, and there will be more in Colorado. I’m more confident now heading into that race.”
Canadian Olympian Tara Whitten won Cascade Cycling Championship GC title in 2016. Before that, two-time Olympian Lyne Bessett was the last Canadian to accomplish the feat in 2003.