MIT cycling hosts race weekend

Team currently holds first place in cycling conference

5795 cycling
Christina Marie Birch G rounds a corner during the Westminster Criterium last Saturday. Birch finished seventh in the event.
Kristine Fong

This past weekend, MIT’s cycling team hosted the X-Pot, a four-race cycling invitational held near Worcester, MA. 34 MIT riders woke up before dawn to conquer the hilly courses and contributed to MIT’s domination of the team omnium, which they won with 380 points.

Saturday’s first race was a 4.9-mile individual time trial featuring a 730-foot climb up Mt. Wachusett, which also happens to house a popular ski area in Massachusetts. Cameron Valier Cogburn G had the fastest time up the mountain, making the climb in 15:02, which was over 45 seconds ahead of second place. Katie J. Quinn G handily won the women’s field, with Shaena R. Berlin ’13 (a Tech meteorologist) and Laura R. Ralston G coming in third and fourth.

After the individual time trial, the teams drove to the criterium course, which was a short loop with two sharp turns and a steep climb before the finish. Although the weather was sunny and perfect for the event, the sharp corners led to numerous crashes throughout the day, and riders had to be extra careful on the course. In the men’s A race, Cogburn caught the breakaway early on and teammate Zachary Ward Ulissi G successfully slowed the pace of the group chasing Cogburn. At the end, Cogburn surged to beat the second place finisher from Killington Mountain School. The women’s A race was equally fun to watch, with all four MIT riders staying close to the front throughout. Quinn joined Lenore Pipes of Cornell in the breakaway for most of the race, and the team demonstrated their strength by taking second, third, sixth, and seventh.

Sunday’s first event was the team time trial in Sutton, MA. In this race, teams of 2-4 riders took laps around a 5.4-mile course, with members taking turns pulling and drafting. Just like Saturday’s races, the team time trial course was fraught with hills. Nevertheless, MIT used its depth to win the event in the men’s A, women’s A, and men’s D fields, with seven out of the 9 MIT teams scoring in the top 5.

The weekend’s final event was the road race, which involved 11-mile loops with rolling hills and a massive climb at the end. In the women’s A race, Ralston took the lead early on and managed to sustain a significant margin, without any draft, for most of the 55-mile course. Berlin also had an impressive race, finishing in third place. In the men’s B field, Kuat T. Yessenov G was able to stay with the main pack for the race and finished seventh. Julie van der Hoop G also showed great promise by finishing third in the women’s intro field in her first road race ever.

It was a weekend filled with crazy climbs, nasty crashes, and lots of sun, but the weekend was successful in terms of hosting and race performance. Not surprisingly, MIT still leads their conference, now with 985 points compared to second place University of Vermont’s 836.

The team will travel to West Point, NY on April 13–14 to hopefully continue their lead at the Army Spring Classic.