“A stage for the sprinters” is how Columbia Hills Road Race, Stage 1 of the 2011 Mt. Hood Cycling Classic was advertised to us. As soon as we hit the first climb of the day, it was obvious that this was not going to be the case. With me sitting at 12th overall after the prologue, and Jesse Miller-Smith our obvious choice for GC leader, the two of us went into the stage as the protected riders. The team did a great job cover attacks, helping each other bridge across any missed splits, and some even sacrificing themselves as water carriers. A few miles before the final big climb of the stage, some riders countered a move by Lunner and I jumped on. I did what I could to drive the pace of the break to establish a sizeable gap before hitting the base of the climb. We hit the bottom of the climb with a 1:20 gap on the chasing field. Nearing the top of the 7-mile climb, Nate English, who had attacked out of the peloton, caught and passed our group like we were sitting still. At this point, I knew Jesse would be coming from behind shortly. Once I was able to see Jesse from behind, realizing he wouldn’t be able to make it onto the back of our group before the top of the climb, I dropped off the back of the lead group and waited for Jesse’s group to catch me. As soon as he made contact, I drilled it as hard as I could on the descent to bring Jesse up to the leaders. Finally by the bottom of the grade, we were on the front group which was now about 30 riders. Our split was able to stay away to the finish line, where I was able to sprint for 5th place on the day. For me it was more exciting to cross the line knowing that our tactics had worked, and we had placed two riders in the front split, including our team GC leader Jesse.