Cycling extends conference lead

MIT wraps up regular season with four races in N.H.

The MIT Cycling team competed in its final regular-season race weekend April 16–17 and continued to extend its lead in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference ahead of the conference championships. The four-race weekend consisted of two races held at Dartmouth College on Saturday and two races organized by the University of New Hampshire on Sunday.

Saturday’s early morning individual time trial (ITT) featured a 3.75-mile course with a 524-foot climb in Hanover, N.H. Starting on the banks of the Connecticut River, cyclists rode through Dartmouth’s campus, out and up half a mile of dirt road to the ridge overlooking Hanover. Zachary A. LaBry G was the quickest MIT rider in the hill-climb time trial with a time of 11 minutes 43.87 seconds, finishing eighth in the men’s A field that also saw six MIT riders place in the top 30. Zachary W. Ulissi G scored in the men’s B field, also placing eighth. Team captain Katie J. Quinn G continued to assert her dominance in the female field, finishing first in 12:45.30, more than 15 seconds ahead of perennial rival Anna McLoon of Harvard. Teammates Yuri Matsumoto G and Christina M. Birch G rounded out the top places with respective third- and fourth-place finishes. Shaena R. Berlin ’13 also scored points with a strong performance in the B category, as did Maria A. Berezina G and Kristine D. Johnson G in the C category.

The Frat Row Criterium followed the ITT. The famed criterium lost part of its personality when the organizers discarded “carnage corner.” In previous years, the 180° downhill-to-uphill, gravel-filled turn had splintered countless fields, crashed out many riders, and generally been the single most defining spot of the course. With a new four-corner criterium, many of the races were won in mass sprint finishes. A notable exception was Quinn, who crossed the finish line alone in the women’s A race, successfully riding away from Dartmouth’s Elle Anderson in the final laps. MIT fielded cyclists in every field (except for intro categories) and, notably, had seven starters in the men’s A race. Highlights of the many scoring performances include Michael J. Frankovich G and Samuel W. Hickey G placing third and fifth, respectively, in the men’s B field, and Samuel M. Nicaise G scoring his first points in a mass-start race with a seventh-place finish in the men’s D.

Sunday’s races were held two hours away in Strafford, N.H. The rainy conditions did not deter MIT from competing in and crushing the morning team time trial event. MIT women’s teams topped all female categories, while the MIT’s men A team (Michael L. Garrett G, John J. Rhoden G, LaBry, and captain Spencer D. Schaber G) finished second. MIT’s second male A team of three (Joseph P. Near G, Andrew C. Lysaght G, Adam P. Bry G) completed the 9.6-mile course a mere 0.23 seconds away from fourth place.

The overcast conditions finally gave way to sunny blue skies, drying the roads just in time for the fourth and last event of the weekend. The anticipated road race featured a 19.9-mile course through the undulating New Hampshire landscape. The C and D categories tackled two loops of the course first. Unfortunately, marshaling mistakes led the front pack of women C, including MIT’s Berezina and Diana Siegel G, off course, stopping their race early from what would have been top finishes. In the men’s C race, Steven Ji ’11 won the field sprint and placed 11th overall. The women’s A and B field raced three loops of the course, and the trio of Martha W. Buckley G, Matsumoto, and Quinn used their numbers and team tactics to ride away from the field and finish 1-2-3, respectively. In the men’s B race, only 7 seconds separated first place from 12th, as the pack finished with a sprint up the course’s steepest climb. Frankovich placed fourth, and female teammate Laura R. Ralston G — a usual podium finisher in the women’s A field — outlasted most of the men’s field by placing 11th. The winning move in the men’s A field was initiated by Harvard’s Stuart McManus at the base of the last climb, 79 miles into the 80-mile race. Bry headed the MIT contingent with a 15th place finish and teammate Rhoden right behind in 18th place.

All in all, it was another successful weekend of racing during which MIT dominated with numbers and sheer strength. Quinn now holds the series jersey as the overall conference female leader, and the MIT Cycling team leads the ECCC points with 1567 points, 570 more than second-place Harvard.