Five firsts fire cyclists victory
By Jeremy Hylton
The cycling club entered last weekend's eastern championship hoping to finish in the top five and earn a spot at the national championship in Spokane, WA. The team hardly expected to finish first in a field that included perennial powerhouses Pennsylvania State University and the University of New Hampshire, as [it0,6p]well as the defending champion, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
MIT cyclists earned five first place finishes in 16 races at the Division I Eastern Collegiate Cycling Federation (ECCF) Championships. With the help of eleven other top 20 finishes, the Engineers [it0,0]scored 1264 points, edging out Penn State at 1209. Other top finishers were UMass, 1013; New Hampshire, 838; Yale, 779; Williams College, 760; and Harvard, 589.
As a result of the first-place finish, MIT will send five men and three women to the national cycling championship in Spokane on May 17-18. The team "will be up against some very tough competition from the West Coast schools, who started racing the first week in February," said John Morrell G, team co-captain.
Team co-captain Tom Moyer G set the pace for the two-day event on Saturday morning when he won the men's division A road race by outsprinting pre-race favorites, Derek Bouchard-Hall of Princeton and Chuck Bednarczyk of Penn State in an elbow-to-elbow 40-mph sprint. In the second half of the A road race, a power-
ful lead-out by Jim Preisig G enabled Joe Armstrong G to capture third place.
The road race was held on a fast 7-mile loop with one small hill. The division A race completed the circuit eight times. The size of the fields for the races prompted race promoters to run two races for most of the categories.
[it6p,0] Women's phenomenon Kjirste Carlson G sprinted to fifth place in the women's road race, escaping from three crashes in the first 20 miles. Alfred Tom '91 astounded the field by charging through the sandy shoulder to win the C division race by two lengths. Andy Parsons [it0,0]'91 placed seventh in the second C road race.
Albert Lew '91 and Charlie Oppenheimer G narrowly escaped injury in the last 500 meters of the division B race, when a crash took down almost half the field, hospitalizing four. Throughout that race Rich Pawlowicz G had attacked three times, once with teammate Paul Stek G, only to be chased down by an aggressive field that allowed no break aways.
On Sunday morning the Engineers' dominance of the event became clear. MIT placed first in the men's A and women's team time trials, the B team placed second, and the C team finished 14th.
The women's team, Carlson, Elizabeth Bradley G and Dava Newman G, beat the Penn State team by 25 seconds, nearly a
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quarter of a mile. The A team, Armstrong, Kevin Hetherington '94, Morrell, Moyer and Preisig, edged by Penn State, winning by 12 seconds. The team, which also won the TTT at Cornell the weekend before, beat defending champion UMass by over a minute.
The men's B time trial was as disappointing as the A race was exciting. Lew, Oppenheimer, Pawlowicz, Stek and Adam Schwartz '91 lost to the Yale team by a heartbreaking .6 seconds. The loss was all the more painful because a car was parked at the finish line as the team finished. The cyclists were forced to slow because of the car -- the difference in the race according to the team.
The C squad, Chris Ekstrom G, Craig Lewis, Parsons, Jack Prior G, Tom and Leon Wong '93, struggled in the race, finishing 14th overall.
Sunday afternoon brought the criteriums, run on a .7-mile loop with a short hill and a torturous 35-mph descent, and what may have been the finest performance of the weekend by an MIT rider. With the help of some stalling by Lew, Pawlowicz won the race on a solo break away.
Pawlowicz attacked on the first lap of the race and had gained a 15-second lead two laps into the race. When the field began its chase, Lew charged to the front, slowing the pace. About halfway through the race a serious crash brought things to a halt for 20 minutes. While injured riders were taken by ambulance for treatment, racing stopped.
When the course was clear Pawlowicz was given a 30-second head start, but the field was reorganized and ready to chase. But Pawlowicz kept his earlier pace and cruised across the finish line 40 seconds ahead of the pack.
In the women's criterium, Carlson rode with a chase group that failed to catch Mary Mull of Williams. Carlson outsprinted three other riders and earned third place.
A hard pace was set early on in the men's A criterium. Five riders, including Moyer and Preisig, rode hard over the first five laps and shattered a field of 80 riders. Several more riders joined the group, and the nine-person break was gone for good. Moyer and Preisig lost out in the sprint among the leaders, finishing fifth and eighth. Morrell finished the race with an unsuccessful chase group, in 24th position. Armstrong, a favorite after his performance in the road race, suffered mechanical problems and did not finish.
In the C race, Parsons was riding in excellent position, but fell victim to a mechanical on the hill in the last lap and finished 13th. Teammate Alfred Tom was another of the hill victims who lost his chain on the climb and was not able to recover.