University of Arizona holds a 14-point team omnium lead on Arizona State University after Saturday and Sunday’s Southern Arizona Omnium, but the Sun Devils have tied the Wildcats for the women’s conference leader jersey.
University of New Mexico also has a five-point lead on Northern Arizona University for third place team omnium points and a spot on the podium.
“We’re excited to defend our podium position from last year in the team omnium,” said UNM’s Dominic Benavidez. “Our rivalry with NAU is very interesting. Our schools have to work together against the bigger teams like UA and ASU, but also against each other for final results. With the next two races in New Mexico and further growth of the club, we look to have a strong showing and increase our gap on NAU going into the conference championship.”
Based around two Arizona parks, the Southern Arizona Omnium consisted of individual and team time trials on Saturday at the base of Picacho Peak State Park and a road race on Sunday outside of Colossal Cave Mountain Park.
With temperature highs reaching 90° F, both days heated up quickly, as did the competition. The time trial course was a flat, out-and-back 20K course, with a mild crosswind that rose slightly throughout the day.
In the morning, the collegiate teams demonstrated their teamwork abilities in the team time trial. UA clinched the Men’s A team time trial with a 1:04-minute gap over ASU and NAU in third.
ASU took the win in the Women’s A team time trial, with UA in second, but in the Women’s B the teams saw a switch-up, with UA in first and ASU in second. Men’s B and C both were dominated by ASU. UA and UNM followed in the B category, and both UA’s C teams took second and third.
“We take TTTs pretty seriously and have ben practicing on Fridays for the last two weeks and going over tactics in meetings,” UA Men’s A team time trial captain Joey Iuliano said. “At the race, we knew to be a little conservative in the headwind going out and then bumped it up to 110 percent on the way back.”
Three schools split the individual team time trial results. Newly upgraded rider Tori Riemersma (ASU) claimed the Women’s A first place, with Sarah Posner (UA) in second and Elisa Woody (UNM) in third. UA’s men swept the podium, with David Greif, Joseph Iuliano and Joshua Pratt-Ferguson dominating the Men’s A category.
ASU swept the Men’s B podium with Joshua Watts, Daniel Frost and Scott Jones. Cherry Niel (UA) won the Women’s B, with Anna Moretti (ASU) and Rebecca Rogers (UA) not far behind. In Men’s C, Alex Lubbock (NAU) took first, followed by Connor Schmitt (ASU) and Patricio Becerra (UA).
By the end of the day, UA and ASU were tied in the team omnium standings, but that status changed as riders looped around the Colossal Cave Road Race Course Sunday. The 9-mile looped course ended with a sprint finish to the top of Pistol Hill.
“Other than the repetitiveness, the course was ideal for any rider that doesn’t mind a hill here or there,” said Shelby Hoglund, who won the road race for Women’s A. “And by there, I mean Pistol Hill waiting [for you] at the finish of each lap.”
Holgund broke away from the collegiate field, which was combined with Women’s Pro 1/2/3, and rode nearly the entire race solo. ASU teammates Meggie Townsend and Alissa Albrecht, along with former Sun Devil Sarah Muench (Bicycle Haus Racing), worked together to bring home second for (Townsend) and third for (Albrecht). Posner (UA) and Albrecht are now tied for the leader’s jersey with Hoglund behind by three points.
The Men’s A field strung out and separated from the pro peloton within a few laps. UA’s Greif and Pratt-Ferguson went 1-2, with ASU’s Rhys Louis in third. Sun Devil Constantin Schreiber suffered a flat and fell off the back. Greif retained the leader’s jersey with 411 points, while teammate Iuliano holds second with 372 points and Louis in third with 350.
“The hill was just steep and long enough to really have to dig deep to make it up with the pack,” Louis said. “Doing it multiple times was like doing five-minute hill repeats time and time again. The hill got especially hard when riders decided to attack in the feed zone.”
Niel (UA) took first in Women’s B, closely tailed by Moretti (ASU) and Christina Azzolina (UA). UA’s Thomas Valente and Carl Patterson-Markowitz were chased by Alex Lubbock (NAU) for the Men’s C podium. Bryan Little (UA) took the Men’s B field by storm, winning on a solo break, followed by Zachary Morrison (NAU) and Tyler Baker (UA).
Next weekend, the teams will head to Las Cruces, N.M. for a two-day, three-race weekend involving an individual time trial, crit and road race.