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Women Lead Cyclists to Fourth-Place Easterns Finish

By Paul Stek
Team Member

MIT hosted the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Championships over the weekend. After three races in snow and rain, MIT finished fourth behind Penn State, UMass-Amherst, and Cornell.

Once again the women's team provided the most points, with Kjirste Carlson G winning the women's omnium. Saturday's road race in Marlborough was run over a rainy and snowy 3.1-mile loop with one long but not very steep hill. Carlson won the 13-lap women's A race in a sprint finish over Kirsten Francis of Tufts and Debra Cohen of Harvard. Karon Maclean G and Liz Bradley G finished eleventh and fourteenth in a four-woman chase pack.

The 7.1-mile men's A race saw one attack after another, but a hungry pack chased them all down. At the finish, the only MIT rider left in the race was sprint specialist Tom Moyer G, who was limited by a broken spoke to an 18th place finish.

The next event was a team time trial, held Sunday morning on a rolling 13.3-mile loop from Concord to Carlisle to Bedford and back to Concord. A cold rain made this, the most painful event of the weekend, all the more uncomfortable.

In a team time trial, teams of between two and six riders race against the clock. Team members ride single file, drafting behind the first rider. All the riders share the duty of leading the team. To win, a team needs not only big lungs but also the ability to ride smoothly.

Last year, MIT won the Easterns largely on TTT placings. This year they were important again, but not enough to win the championships, as only the women's A's won their event. The C's took second, losing to Penn State by five seconds, but beating Cornell by a quarter of a second.

The criterium at University Park in Cambridge was the only event not marred by rain. The course was a tight, flat half-mile loop. At every turn riders needed to break, negotiate the turn, then sprint to the next turn. Most of the turns were only wide enough for two riders, forcing the pack to string out along the course.

The men's D race saw Jack Prior G attack from the start, shredding the field. Only UMass rider Sebastian Laurent beat him to the line. The C's saw Andy Mor '93 ride in a 4-man break from the beginning. UConn's Steve Dunlap broke away with two laps to go, just as the break was lapping the field. He quickly raced through the field, leaving Mor and his breakaway companions stuck behind the pack.

Jill Sherwood '95 dominated the women's B race by winning both primes and the final sprint. Carlson showed similar form in the women's A race. She has lost only one race this year, and all her competitors knew that on the last lap they wanted to be behind her going into the sprint. With 400 yards to go, Carlson jumped with Cohen of Harvard on her wheel. Despite being an excellent sprinter, Cohen could not come around Carlson at the finish.

The men's A was the most exciting race of the weekend. The start of the 35-mile race saw three of the strongest men in the field, Peter Vollers of Cornell, Derek Bouchard-Hall of Princeton, and Dean Rittenhouse of Penn State get off in a dangerous break. After only a few laps, they held a 15-second lead over a hard charging pack.

The furious pace stretched the pack out single file around a quarter of the course. By the middle of the race, only 30 of the original 80 riders were left: the original three, now 30 seconds off the front, a main pack of 15, where Moyer was lurking, waiting for the front three to be reeled in, and two chase packs, with John Morrell G in the second.

Then Rittenhouse crashed due to a poorly glued tire, breaking up the three-man break. Bouchard-Hall dropped back to the main pack, leaving former professional Vollers alone off the front. Ten laps later, he was reeled in, and things were looking good for Moyer. With two laps to go, Greg Huey from Central Connecticut State attacked. CCS was not a contender for the championship, so the pack let him go, making it a race for second.

With 300 yards to go, Vollers attacked into the third turn with Bouchard-Hall and Moyer on his wheel. On the short straightaway between the third and fourth turns, Bouchard-Hall powered past Vollers, and Moyer came around Vollers on the final straight, taking third by less than a foot, though he was unable to catch Bouchard-Hall.

The fourth-place finish qualifies MIT for next month's nationals in Rome, Ga. A training accident has made it unlikely that Carlson will be able to compete. She would have been one of the favorites. Moyer is expected to be a contender for individual honors.