MIT Cycling faces ECCC rivals in Madison

Nine members of the MIT cycling team competed in the Collegiate Road Nationals, held May 7-9 in Madison, Wisconsin. The event opened on Friday with an incredibly challenging road race at Blue Mound State Park. Rain, temperatures in the 40’s, and over 8,000 feet of climbing over 70 miles made the men’s race a race of attrition, with only half the starters finishing the race. John Dreher G was MIT’s first finisher, in a solid 18th place, even though he had upgraded to A’s just three weeks before nationals. Despite riding the last 10 miles of the race with a broken shifter cable, forcing him to run up the steep hills, John Rhoden G placed 27th. After spending much of the race chasing after getting a flat tire, Tim Humpton ’10 finished in 32nd place.

Despite the continued rain, the MIT women started off their race with a bang: on the climb in the first lap all three MIT women and a Dartmouth rider broke away from the field. Unfortunately, the break was unable to hold off the field on the subsequent long downhill, and most of the field remained together until the finishing climb. In the finishing climb Martha Buckley G attacked, and she and Arielle Filberti from Dartmouth gapped the field by about 30 seconds. Unfortunately, Buckley did not have much left when Arielle sprinted at the top of the hill, and she placed second. The MIT women continued to show their dominance, however, with Laura Ralston G placing 5th and Yuri Matsumoto G placing 8th.

Racing continued on Saturday with a criterion around the Wisconsin State Capitol. Despite hail and gusty winds, which led the MIT team to take refuge in a bus stop while warming up, the roads were dry and the sun was coming out when the women started their race. Early in the race, a group of three exceptionally strong riders got off the front, and despite their best efforts, the MIT women were unable to bridge up to them or organize a chase to pull them back. After a relatively slow pace for a number of laps, several riders attacked with one lap to go. Buckley went with them, and was able to pass all of them, winning the field sprint and placing 4th. The men’s race played quite differently, with a large number of attacks going off, but none were able to stay away. Mike Garrett G had amazing positioning throughout the race, but was unable to maintain his position in the final lap, placing 38th.

The competition closed on Sunday with the team time trial. Although Matsumoto got a flat tire just under halfway through the race, Buckley, Ralston, and Zuzana Trnovcova G were able to finish in second, just fractions of a second ahead of Dartmouth College. The MIT men’s team of Garrett, Dreher, Rhoden, and Zach LaBry G placed fifth, beating all the other Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (ECCC) teams.

When the team scores were added up, the MIT team placed third, behind Whitman and Mesa State and just ahead of ECCC rival Dartmouth College. Buckley’s second place finish in the road race and forth place finish in the criterion earned her third place in the women’s individual omnium.