By Brendan Benson
Lindsey Wilson College and Marian University continued a heated rivalry in the Midwest Collegiate Cycling Conference, exchanging victories throughout DePauw’s road race, team time trial and criterium. Despite the dominance of these teams, Michigan State University, University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and Indiana University also demonstrated commendable performances, nabbing several top positions across categories.
Unlike the past two weekends, which were hosted in sunny Kentucky, this weekend brought cloudy skies and drizzle — weather more-truly representative of early-season collegiate cycling in the Midwest. Lindsey Wilson entered the weekend with a large championship point lead over Marian, but strong performances by Marian’s riders — especially its women’s team — narrowed the gap considerably.
Saturday’s 8-mile residential loop around Heritage Lake challenged racers with steady rolling climbs and quick descents. Many categories saw some of the fastest road races of the season thus far.
The sky opened up for the Men’s A race, causing wet and miserable racing conditions, foggy glasses, and showers of wheel spray. Racers rode all-out from the gun with non-stop attacks and counter-attacks. Bridge attempts by the less-represented schools glued the field back together as teammates of breakaway riders jumped on the bridging riders’ wheels. Despite the aggressiveness of the 26.5 mile-per-hour race, the field remained together until a crash on a sweeping downhill split the group. With a significant portion of riders separated behind the crash, the incessant attacks continued as increasingly-impatient riders clamored to form a break that the field would allow to escape.
Early in the last lap, with the group still together, Greg Christian, a Ph.D. student from Michigan State, made an all-or-nothing solo attack to escape from the tiring field. Christian’s move dangled off the front for half the lap as riders made strong, but futile chase efforts. The field slowed after the unsuccessful chase, allowing Christian to bring home a solo victory in his first collegiate race of the season. Meanwhile, the group behind saw Eric Young of Indiana take the runner-up spot ahead of Kip Spaude of Lindsey Wilson.
In the Women’s A race, Sinead Miller continued to make her message clear – women’s collegiate racers in the Midwest race for second place. Miller handily won the race with another off-the-front solo move, while her teammates covered bridge attempts back in the field. She crossed the line well-ahead of the charging field, which had several riders tumble in the final sprint. Clara Smart of Northwestern edged out Rita Klofta of DePauw to take the runner-up position.
The Men’s B race remained compact for most of the race. Although several schools attacked the field, nothing stayed clear for more than a few minutes. Riders eventually settled into a rhythm that led to a field sprint where Indiana’s Matt Kain and Matt Green took the one-two ahead of Marian’s Adam Kosela.
Indiana controlled the Women’s B/C race with a large number of racers who used this weekend’s races to prepare for the IU’s infamous Little 500. Their fitness showed, as Amy Dickman, Hannah Calvert, Kelsey Kent, and Caitlyn VanKotten – all from Indiana – took the top four places.
The Men’s C race also came down to a field sprint. Tangled handlebars at the 200-meter mark caused a nasty crash resulting in two broken clavicles. Riders that made it out ahead of the carnage sprinted for the line to have Ryan Shea of Butler University edge out Kevin Kelly of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
The Men’s D race pushed a steady pace that caused many riders to fall off the back in the undulating hills. The race came down to a sprint from a small group where Chris Kreidl of UW Milwaukee beat Justin Sorber of Ball State.
Team Time Trial
Rivalry between Marian and Lindsey Wilson intensified going into the 5-mile out-and-back team time trial. Marian had the pressure to perform, holding last year’s men’s and women’s course records. This year’s team time trial, however, required that all teams forgo aero equipment in an effort to even the playing field, and to transition to a newly-introduced collegiate cycling rule that will take full effect in 2011.
Both Marian and Lindsey Wilson brought full armies to the Men’s A team time trial, with each school assembling two teams to compete in the Men’s A category. Lindsey Wilson’s four-man team of Christopher Cruise Bogedin, Alder Martz, Clayton Omer, and Kip Spaude took a slim six-second upset over Marian with a time of 12:17.
The Women’s A team time trial saw no surprises as Marian’s team exerted their dominance once again to take home victory with a time of 13:01, over a minute-and-a-half ahead of Depauw’s women.
Marian, Ohio State, and Lindsey Wilson won the Men’s B, C, and D team time trials respectively. The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire won the Women’s B/C category.
Sunday’s criterium course left many categories in shambles with a series of 90-degree lefts and a tight 180-degree turnaround after the start / finish line. A last-minute course change by the promoter had racers riding on a slick parking lot surface that caused a slew of crashes across categories.
Several riders in the Men’s A category elected not to start the race after watching the crash-filled categories earlier in the day. Those who did start saw four major crashes during a race where the relentless field lined up single-file from the gun. Ben Damhoff of UW Platteville built up an early twenty-second gap on a group of eight that included riders from Lindenwood and Marian, along with an isolated Lindsey Wilson rider.
The eight-man group organized a chase, eventually bringing the gap down to ten seconds at one point in the race. However, Damhoff’s incredible tempo and quick cornering proved too strong for the chasing riders. He remained solo for the victory, while Lindenwood’s Timothy Norris and Matt Brandt rounded off the podium in the field sprint.
Women’s A racers once again rode for second place after Sinead Miller built a sizeable gap on the field before even reaching the first turn. Miller rode circles around the decimated field, towing lapped riders until they popped off her wheel. Miller’s teammates retained control of the field, slotting Anna Young and Jacqueline Kurth into second and third.
Matt Dooley of Lindsey Wilson lapped the remnants of the field in the Men’s B race while his teammates back in the group covered attacks. Having clinched victory, Dooley eased up for the last few laps to take in the celebration. His teammate Scott Hoffner took the field sprint for second place, with Ryan Carlson of University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in third.
The Men’s C race spread out quickly as racers with strong technical skills and quick accelerations left the less-experienced riders behind. By the end, only nine riders finished the race without getting pulled. The lead group of five had Andrew Boneff of Rose-Hulman take the bunch sprint ahead of Concordia Seminary’s Matthew Behrens.
The Women’s B/C race saw less dominance from Indiana compared to the previous day’s road race. Summer Ohlendorf of University of Wisconsin-Madison won the race, beating Lindsey Wilson’s Allie Dragoo and Indiana’s Amy Dickman.
The Men’s D race started early in the morning on wet pavement. The first rider around the 180-degree hairpin slid out and crashed, providing a reminder to the field to ride prudently on the slippery surface and technical course. Blake Wehlage of Ohio State took the win ahead of Taylor Ladd of Lindsey Wilson.
Next weekend, schools will head to the west side of the conference to compete at Lindenwood University in Missouri. Having won the Men’s A road race and criterium two weeks ago at Murray State, the small varsity-cycling school of Lindenwood will have a strong incentive to pull out more victories on its home turf.
Brendan Benson is a senior business major at the University of Michigan and races in the Mens A category.