By VeloNews Interactive
Colorado’s unpredictable weather lived up to the old “if you don’t like it, wait five minutes” rule and opened a small window of opportunity for riders to take on the National Collegiate road racing championship on Sunday. After Saturday’s rain-plagued criteriums, Sunday started dawned warm and sunny as Carolyn Donnelly (University of New Mexico) and Sarah Konrad (University of Wyoming) finished together winning the women’s Division I and II events. The weather cooperated all the way until moments after UCLAs’ Alex Smith and Tyler Wren of Princeton rode to their respective wins in the Division I and II races. Moments after finishing, a fast-moving Canadian cold front, kicked up winds and sent temperatures on a fast dive.
The women’s races – run concurrently – highlighted an early break with Donnelly, Konrad and Colorado State’s Karen Bockel. The three worked effectively to build a quick and insurmountable lead over the rest of the field, even lapping several riders on the hilly 9.45-mile course around the U.S. Air Force Academy.
With a lap to go, Donnelly and Konrad moved to the front, dropped Bockel and never looked back. With their respective division titles locked up, the pair decided not to contest a sprint and cross the line hand-in-hand. Konrad, a PhD. candidate in the University of Wyoming’s geology program is an elite-level cross-country skier who only recently took on the sport of cycling. She dominated Saturday’s women’s criterium, riding to a solo win on a wet and course that saw several major crashes.
“On Saturday, it was just safer to be out front,” Konrad observed.
UCLA’s Alex Smith said he has been “thinking of nothing else” since learning that collegiate nationals would be in Colorado again. In 1997, the then Cal-Poly rider had hoped to earn himself a national championship when the race was scheduled to be held in Durango, Colorado. A freak spring snowstorm led to the cancellation of the race and Smith went home disappointed.
“I wanted this more than anything,” the 28-year-old graduate student said. “My big fear was that, like last time, something outside of my control was going to keep me from it.”
Smith seemed fully in control of events this time around as he moved off the front of the men’s field with two laps to go. Smith maintained a small but comfortable lead over University of Kansas’ Jed Schneider who hovered about 30 seconds behind.
But circumstance almost kept Smith from his jersey, when he snapped a spoke on his rear wheel seven miles from the finish. As the spoke rattled loudly against his frame, Smith opted to take the risk and opened his rear brake.
“I couldn’t believe it, but I figured I was better off risking it then letting (Schneider) catch me during a wheel change and then lose the lead or have to go head-to-head in a sprint,” Smith explained. “I’m a lot more comfortable trying to ride it out than fight it out in a sprint.”
Smith’s luck held and he crossed the line with his lead – and his wheel – intact.
Moments after the finish, as Smith was chatting with friends and reporters, a blast of cold air rushed through the start/finish area. As races organizers fought to hold down tents and awnings, Smith smiled and said “Well, at least it waited unit after the race this time.”
>2001 USCF NATIONAL COLLEGIATE ROAD CYCLING CHAMPIONSHIPS, May 20, Road Race, Colorado Springs, CO
Division I Men: 1. Alex Smith, University of California-Los Angeles) 2:56:20; 2. Jed Schneider, University of Kansas, at 0:08:60; 3. Patrick Sullivan, University of Colorado, at 1:36:40; 4. Peter Knudsen, University of California-San Diego, at 1:36:40; 5. Jeff
Angermann, University of California-Davis, at 2:15:00; 6. Evan Ruzanski
(Colorado State University, s.t.; 7. Gareth Jones, University of New
Mexico, at 2:22:10; 8. Ian Dille, University of Texas, s.t.; 9. Jeff
Johnston, Texas A&M University, s.t.; 10. Mike Wilk, Fort Lewis
Division I Women: 1. Carolyn Donnelly, University of New Mexico, at two hours, 17 minutes and 12.1 seconds; 2. Karen Bockel, Colorado State University, at 2:22:30 back; 3. Alice Pennington, Oregon State University, at 6:06:30; 4. Lara Kroepsch, University of Colorado-Boulder, s.t.; 5. Megan McQuaid, University of California-Davis, s.t.
Division II Women: 1. Sarah Konrad, University of Wyoming, at 2:17:02; 2. Kate Sherwin, Dartmouth, at 9:24:30; 3. Alison McNulty, Washington University, s.t.; 4. Mary Rudy, USAFA, at 18:56:30; 5. Amanda Lawrence, Yale, at 20:53:20.
Division II Men: 1. Tyler Wren, Princeton, 3:03:48; 2. Sam Troge, U.S. Air Force Academy, at 0:36:00; 3. Robert Gannini, Emory University, s.t.; 4. Kyle Wamsley, Millerville University, at 2:22:00; 5. Aric Hareland, NDSU, at 2:33:00; 6. Robert King (Colorado College, at 2:37:00; 7. Matthew McCorkle, USAFA, at 2:42:00; 8. Bradley Ames, U.S. Air Force Academy, at 5:40:00; 9. Todd Yezefski (Dartmouth, s.t.; 10. Jeff Dickey, Washington & Lee University, at same time.