Cycling team wins Eastern Conference title again

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(left to right) Jonathan J. Dreher G, John J. Rhoden G, Timothy J. Humpton ‘10, and Michael L. Garrett G take off from the start line in the Men’s A team time trial at the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference championships.
Tony Laidig

For the second year in a row, the MIT cycling team won the Eastern Conference overall title, defeating several powerhouse schools on its way to the combined Division I and II title. Although host Dartmouth College won the championship weekend, the Engineers took a close second place to claim the season omnium title.

Additionally, Martha W. Buckley G claimed the individual omnium title as well as the sprint jersey in the Women’s A field.

After last weekend’s racing at West Point, MIT held the overall conference lead. However, with double points at stake during the championships, both Dartmouth and the perennial Division 1 winner, University of Vermont-Montpelier, were still serious threats. With Dartmouth riding on home roads they were especially dangerous.

The championship weekend began with the team time trial (TTT), an event which has always been a strength of the MIT team. The MIT women’s team showed without a doubt that they were both the strongest and deepest women’s team in the confernce. The untouchable Women’s A team of Buckley, Laura R. Ralston G, Yuri Matsumoto G, and Zuzana Trnovcova G defeated Dartmouth to win the Women’s A TTT. Not content with just one gold in the TTT, the Women’s B team of Stefanie A. Sydlik G, Shaena R. Berlin ’13, Katie J. Quinn G, and Melissa A. Gymrek ’10 won the Women’s B TTT by over a minute. Showing the depth of the women’s team, the Women’s C team of Kristen E. Railey ’13, Kristin D. Schleicher G, Rachel M. Bainbridge ’10, and Ariadne G. Smith ’10 took second. The Men’s B team of Christopher T. Carper ’10, Sam W. Hickey G, Ian M. Rousseau ’10, and Spencer D. Schaber G missed first place to UVM by an agonizing four seconds out of 22 minutes, but soundly beat Dartmouth. Although the MIT Men’s A and Men’s C teams were beat out by both UVM and Dartmouth, solid performances by all the men’s squads and the utter domination of the women’s team prevented Dartmouth from gaining on MIT.

MIT riders again showed their strength that afternoon with high placings in the wickedly difficult and fast criterium. Hickey took a fantastic third in Men’s B, and Matthieu J. Talpe ’11 and John W. Romanishin ’12 took sixth in Men’s C and D, respectively. Unfortunately, victories in both the Men’s A and Men’s C races allowed Dartmouth to gain a few points on MIT. In the women’s races Ralston took second in the A field, and after a long and hard race Quinn was narrowly edged out at the line to take second in C’s. Although Dartmouth won the women’s A race, the depth of the MIT women’s team and the prime points scored by Buckley, who took first in every prime in the women’s A race, allowed the MIT women to edge out Dartmouth to get maximum team points.

Sunday sent the riders on a beautiful road race course in Vermont, featuring races ranging from 73 miles for the Men’s A field to 11 miles for the Intro fields with almost a thousand feet of climbing per lap plus a two-mile climb to the finish line. In the first real road race of the season MIT performed spectacularly against schools that enjoy much hillier roads for training. In the Intro category, Tony Laidig G took second and Schleicher rode up the hill in first. Adam P. Bry G, Hickey, and Schaber took top ten placings in their races, while John J. Rhoden G took eleventh in a brutal Men’s A race. MIT’s win was emphatically sealed when Buckley soloed in to victory eleven and a half minutes ahead of the rest of the field in the Women’s A race. Showing the MIT women’s team domination, Matsumoto dropped the rest of the field on the final climb to take second.

In just over a week nine members of the MIT cycling team will be competing in Collegiate Road Nationals, held in Madison, WI from May 7–9, 2010.