Riders from the Southwest Collegiate Cycling Conference will bring home the most hardware the conference in recent memory this week after three hard-fought days of racing at USA Cycling’s Collegiate Road National Championships.
University of Arizona, Arizona State University and New Mexico State University amassed seven medals throughout the weekend in Augusta, Georgia, across time trials, road races and crits.
“To my knowledge, this is the most successful road nationals we’ve had as a conference and especially for the women,” said Joey Iuliano, director of the USA Cycling Southwest Collegiate Cycling Conference and president of UA Cycling. “Our conference had riders on every podium in the women’s races, which is a testament to how strong our women are.”
Cara O’Neill (UA) won the Women’s Club Division road race, took silver in the crit and landed on the top step of the individual omnium podium.
“I honestly did not expect to win the road race or the individual omnium,” O’Neill said. “Both are individual titles, but not achievable without the team support – everything from fundraising from the community, driving 30 hours cross country and everyone working the feed zone for three hours before their own race.”
Cécile Lejeune (ASU) took silver in the Women’s Club Division individual time trial.
“It was an amazing feeling to get second in the TT,” Lejeune said. “It was quite unexpected. I had no idea of the level of my opponents as this was a new experience for me, so it made it all the more enjoyable.”
Lejeune, who began racing this year, is from France and is a former runner on the ASU track and field and cross country team. But she retired due to recurring injury.
“Getting into cycling was a great way to still do some physical activity that is similar to efforts running requires,” Lejeune said. “It’s also a brilliant way to meet new people and takes you to amazing places. Racing nationals has given me more experience and taught me loads. Competing against stronger riders is truly beneficial, and made me want to take part in more big races.”
Marcel Berger (NMSU) also took home a silver medal in the individual time trial despite having a mechanical issue during his warm-up.
“I targeted a podium in the ITT already last year, but was fourth with seven seconds behind third,” Berger said. “This year’s course was more balanced and suited my rider type. I finished second – four seconds behind first place and was accordingly happy considering the circumstances.”
UA’s men’s and women’s Team Time Trial teams won fourth and fifth place, respectively.
“I’m ridiculously proud of everyone on the team and the dedication they put in,” Iuliano said. “I think we’re really hitting our stride at nationals. It just takes time to build up a program and then the results come in.”
RECAP: 2019 USA Cycling’s Collegiate Road National Championships
Team time trial events in the morning used a looped course that covered 21.8 miles (35.2 kilometers) of rolling rural roads lined with loblolly pine trees.
Billowing clouds and rising humidity cloaked the riders in the afternoon for individual time trial categories. Club and varsity riders used an out-and-back, 13.8-mile (22.2-kilometer) course to decide medalists in the races against the clock.
TEAM TIME TRIAL
The bronze medal team in the Club Division for women a year ago, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) took the gold medal in this year’s opening Team Time Trial event. The squad finished in 54 minutes, 26 seconds and included three riders from 2018, Emma Edwards, Tori Wuthrich and Amy Ousterhout, and newcomer Joanna Millstein. Stanford University repeated with the silver medal, just 34 seconds off the winning pace. The University of Colorado Boulder clinched the bronze.
In the Varsity Division, powerhouse Marian University scored its 10th national title in the TTT for women, finishing in 53 minutes, 10 seconds. Returning from last year on the Marian squad were Emma Swartz, Alijah Beatty, and Laurel Rathbun. The fourth rider was Marta Morris. Taking the silver medal 44 seconds back was Milligan College, reigning champions of the SECCC. Following for the bronze was Fort Lewis College.
On the men’s side, University of Colorado Boulder successfully defended its Team Time Trial title in the Club Division, completing the course in 47 minutes, 14 seconds. Returning for the Buffaloes was Ross Ellwood, and he was joined by teammates Jack Tanner, Reade Warner, and Parker Gara. Among the 13 challenging teams, Stanford University secured the silver medal, finishing just 6.7 seconds back, and Colorado State University grabbed the bronze.
In the Men’s Varsity Division, it was a slim 6.9-second margin that separated the top two teams. Five-time Varsity champions Marian University were overtaken this year for the gold medal by Colorado Mesa University. The Mavericks, which finished second last year, had two returning riders, Caiden Plummer and Torbjorn Roed, who rode with newcomers Henry Lutz and Alexander Marr. Marian University finished seven seconds back for silver. Savannah College of Art & Design – Atlanta captured the bronze for a second consecutive year, 9 seconds behind Marian.
INDIVIDUAL TIME TRIAL
Last year’s fourth-place finisher in the Women’s Club Individual Time Trial vaulted her way to the top step on Friday afternoon. Lauren De Crescenzo (University of Colorado Denver) snared herself a Stars-and-Stripes jersey with a solid time of 33 minutes, 40 seconds. Finishing more than a minute back was Cécile Lejeune (Arizona State University) for silver. The bronze medal went to Clio Dinan (Smith College). Last year’s gold medalist, Margot Clyne (University of Colorado Boulder), finished half a second behind Dinan for fourth.
In the Varsity Division, the top three positions went to teammates from Savannah College of Art and Design-Savannah. Olivia Ray crossed the line in 34 minutes, 31 seconds to take the gold medal. The silver went to Abigail Youngwerth and the bronze went to Erin Blumel.
“It was very hot. The course was quite hilly. On the way out, very difficult. On the way back, a lot easier,” said Ray, surrounded by her teammates. “The last hill, about one kilometer to go, was torture. I think I was stuck at 15 miles per hour pace, not going anywhere. But it was fun. I pushed through the pain.”
The Men’s Club Division featured the largest field of the day with 52 riders surging from the start ramp. The winning time of 30 minutes, 11 seconds went to Spencer Moavenzadeh (Duke University) for a gold medal. He finished 10th in the same race last year. A mere 1/100th of a second separated the next two medal positions. Marcel Berger (New Mexico State University) finished 4.47 seconds behind the Duke Blue Devil, and James Snitzer (Emory University). It was a repeat for the bronze for Snitzer, while last year Berger finished fourth.
The fastest time on the course was recorded in the Men’s Varsity Division, a time of 28 minutes, 59 seconds posted for a gold medal by Zach Gregg (Midwestern State University). Andrew Scarano (Savannah College of Art & Design-Atlanta) secured the silver medal. Spencer Miller (Marian University) rolled across the line just four seconds behind Scarano to secure the bronze.
The second day of the 2019 USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships featured four road race events on the multi-mission, multi-service military installation at Fort Gordon.
Women and men used a 14.72-mile (23.7-kilometer) looped course that rolled over undulating, tree-lined roads on the Army base property with long straightaways, few sharp corners and a decisive climb 500 meters from the finish.
Club and Varsity Women raced four laps for a total of 60 miles (96.6 kilometers). The Club and Varsity Men completed four laps as well, having the race shortened by one lap because of severe weather approaching the Augusta area.
A field of 42 women started the morning in the Club Division. By the final lap, a group of 22 riders jostled for position on the final climb, nicknamed Mount Fort Gordon.
The rights to the Stars-and-Stripes jersey was taken at the line by 20-year-old Cara O’Neill (University of Arizona). She scored the win in 2 hours, 53 minutes, 16 seconds.
Three riders finished on her wheel, just one second back. Anna Christian (University of Colorado-Boulder) grabbed the silver, Emma Edwards (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) took the bronze. Finishing fourth was Margot Clyne (University of Colorado-Boulder), who was the Women’s Club champion in the road race last year.
“This is the first national championship I have won. It’s going to be very cool to have the (Stars-and-Stripes) jersey all year,” said O’Neill, who is used to sprint finishes. She has had four criterium wins so far this season. “It was pretty much easy endurance for most of the course. The hills broke it up. Then a couple of flyers, and a sprint was the deciding moment.”
In the Varsity Division, Olivia Ray (Savannah College of Art and Design-Savannah) made it two-for-two with a victory in the road race, finishing in 2 hours, 52 minutes, 10 seconds. The race started with 54 total riders. Friday’s individual time trial champion outpaced 13 competitors in the final bunch sprint, who all finished one second behind a speeding Ray.
Crossing the line for the silver was Madeline Bemis (Milligan College) and for the bronze was Samantha Runnels (Lindenwood University). Marian University teammates, Emma Swartz and Laurel Rathbun took fourth and fifth, respectively.
“It was pretty difficult again today,” said Ray, 21, who has three collected three collegiate track titles over the past two years. “The course is very hilly and punchy. There were a lot of attacks towards the last one and a half laps. Everyone was holding back and waiting for the last climb. I think everyone was sort of saying ‘she can only do track.’ I wanted to prove to everyone, and myself, that I’m not just a one-trick pony. I can do a couple of disciplines.”
The largest field of the day featured 105 riders for the Men’s Club Division showdown. A total of 90 riders finished a weather-shortened 60-mile race, led by new national champion Evan Bausbacher (University of Texas at Austin).
He held off 10 charging riders for the victory, in a time of 2 hours, 53 minutes, 3 seconds. Closest to the 21-year-old’s wheel were Fred Vincent (University of North Texas) and Chaz Hogenauer (Colorado State University), who finished with the same time for the silver and bronze, respectively.
Approximately three miles into the first lap of this race, more than 30 riders went down in a large pileup. The race was stopped for more than 15 minutes to allow for mechanical support, while the Men’s Varsity event that had just started on the course was neutralized and delayed for a restart. During the Men’s Club and Varsity races, severe thunderstorms were detected in the area, so both events were shortened from five to four laps.
The Men’s Varsity Division finish also came down to a decisive sprint. Cade Bickmore (Marian University) out-dueled a 10-rider bunch to take his first collegiate title on the road. He finished in a time of 2 hours, 15 minutes, 12 seconds. The silver went to Scott McGill (Brevard College). Collecting the bronze was Jonah Meadvancort (Lindenwood University), the winner of last year’s Varsity criterium.
“It’s unreal,” the 21-year-old Bickmore said about his win on Saturday in the road race. “We had really good communication today, which I think was key. We had a game plan to make it harder in the last couple of laps. Without that last lap, it threw a wrench in our spokes. But you know, we could see that the course really wasn’t letting any breaks get away. So we knew it was going to come down to a sprint. I think that really worked out well for us.”
Speed and precision were on display in downtown Augusta on Sunday for the final day of the 2019 USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships. Four criterium events decided new national champions for Varsity and Club athletes representing 79 schools from across the country. Accumulated points from three days of racing decided Omnium winners for individuals and teams.
A 1.4-kilometer (0.86-mile) circuit was used for all criterium events, using a four-block section of downtown to circle Augusta Commons. Women raced for 70 minutes, with the Club division starting at 9 a.m. and Varsity division at 10:30 a.m. For the men, champions were decided after 80 minutes of racing, with the Club division taking place at 12:15 p.m. followed by the Varsity division.
Forty-two riders in the Club battle had riders bunched together and checking all moves. The top three riders from Saturday’s Road Race were also eyeing sprint points for the Omnium title – champion Cara O’Neill (University of Arizona), silver medalist Anna Christian (University of Colorado-Boulder) and bronze medalist Emma Edwards (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
In the final seven laps and with the main field of 32 riders still together, there was a different lead-out rider on each lap trying to create some space. In the final sprint, Christian surged to the front and created enough distance on O’Neill for the gold. O’Neill took the silver, followed by Samantha Quijano (University of California-Berkeley) snaring the bronze.
“We (UC Boulder) working together as a team, pulling out everything we had, throwing every wrench we could. We knew exactly what we needed to do, because we were talking the entire race,” said Christian about her win being a result of solid teamwork for all 70 minutes. “It’s a huge thing to come to nationals, whether you are a big team or a small team. Whether you have a lot of teammates here or not, it means a lot that this was a really good, clean race among all the riders.”
While Christian took 21 points by winning three in-race sprint contests, or primes, O’Neill took enough points with criterium primes to secure the Individual Omnium title for Club Women. O’Neill scored 321 total points and won the Omnium title by just one point over Christian.
The Varsity contest resembled a grand prix motorsports event. After four laps and the first prime competition, there was a large pileup on turn six, which caused a 30-minute delay for the field of 48 riders. Rain showers added treachery to the mix, resulting not long after with a second crash. After the race was neutralized for a few minutes and neutral laps reorganized the field, it was full speed ahead. Marian University used multiple riders to lift the pace, as well as Milligan College, Lindenwood University and Savannah School of Art & Design, both the Atlanta and Savannah squads.
Not until the final 200 meters did a familiar face and SCAD jersey emerge for a third national title. Olivia Ray (Savannah College of Art and Design-Savannah) made it three-for-three for the weekend, winning the criterium. The same time went to seven other riders in the bunch sprint, with the silver going to Alijah Beatty (Marian University). The bronze went to Judah Sencenbaugh (Savannah College of Art and Design-Atlanta), who was the silver medalist last year.
“I was just hoping to get a good wheel, and Alijah went to go for the line. So I gave everything to catch her and crossed the line first,” said Ray about how she emerged from the pack to take her third collegiate road title in three days. She won the Individual Time Trial on Friday and the Road Race on Saturday.
Ray would also secure the Individual Omnium for Varsity Women. Madeline Bemis (Milligan College), the silver medalist in the Road Race and fifth in the Criterium, took second overall in Omnium points. Samantha Runnels (Lindenwood University), the bronze medalist in the Road Race and sixth place finisher in the Criterium, was third overall in Omnium points.
The Men’s Club Division featured 103 riders. The pace picked up into single-file racing just 10 minutes into the contest. A four-man break formed quickly, making it work so well that they stayed together to lap the field with eight laps to go. The group included last year’s Road Race gold medalist, Eric Brunner (University of Colorado Boulder), his teammate Paul Hartner, Ethan Call (Dartmouth College), and this year’s ITT gold medalist Spencer Moavenzadeh (Duke University).
Brunner saved a little in the tank for the final sprint and won the gold, in a time of 1 hour, 16 minutes, 25 seconds. One second back was Moavenzadeh for the silver, and Call rolled in two seconds back for the bronze. Hartner would finish fourth, and the best of field was Keelan Ontiveros (University of Oregon).
“I didn’t expect to win today. I just go into every race and try to win,” Brunner said, who also took the Individual Omnium title for Club Men, 237 total points. Last year he was second in Omnium standings. Call finished second with 229 points, just edging out Road Race championEvan Bausbacher (University of Texas at Austin) by two points.
The Men’s Varsity Division faced more spring showers in the afternoon and hit the circuits hard for the full 80 minutes. Attacks came from multiple schools, with 21 riders sorting themselves from the original 68. The final sprint for gold went to James Hilyer (Fort Lewis College). Five other riders finished with the same time, and from that group Scott McGill (Brevard College) earned the silver. The bronze went to Hugo Scala Jr. (Marian University).
“It was unexpected, especially after hitting the deck at 65 k (kilometers) an hour yesterday. And riding a borrowed bike. I didn’t think I was going to do anything today,” said a smiling Hilyer after the race. “Coming down the backside, I got in front of Marian. As soon as I did that, and was on Scott McGill’s wheel, I was like, ‘that’s it, I’m not letting this go.’ I realized I was right there, coming around the last two people. I thought, okay, I could finish this off, this is easy.”
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