MIT Cycling Team Tops Division II Competition at ECCC Tournament
By Zach LaBry
The MIT Cycling Team won the Division II Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference Championship this past weekend and soundly secured an overall DII victory for the season over its nearest competitor, Yale.
The ECCC championships, held April 29 and 30 at Cornell University, began with a team time trial in which MIT racers Caitlin Bever G, Martha W. Buckley G, Sonya J. Cates G, and Catherine Humblet G claimed victory in the Women’s A category. The Men’s D Team Time Trial (TTT) team of Philip J. Ilten ’08, Nick C. Loomis G, Ben E. Shanks ’09, and Nicholas Tham Ming Quiang ’06 similarly thrashed its competition, placing first.
Extensive training and trips to the MIT Wind Tunnel paid off for the Men’s A time trialists Mark B. Cote ’07, Kieran F. Culligan ’06, Ariel M. Herrmann G, and Jason A. Sears G, when they placed second in the highly competitive field. MIT’s Women’s B time trialists also out-pedaled most competition, with a second-place finish by Leah C. Blasiak G, Ilana L. Brito G, and Kristen M. Naegle G.
The Men’s C TTT team, consisting of Paul S. Nerenberg G, A.J. Schrauth G, M. Bryan Shieh ’06, and Chris H. Tracy G faced stiff opposition, but still pedaled to a six place finish less than 30 seconds away from the winning time. MIT’s time trial teams were unmatched in region, taking first place overall in both divisions.
Saturday afternoon’s road race was held on a long, 18-mile loop with rolling hills, and a steep mile-long climb that split every category as racers struggled. Tracy remained at the front of the Men’s D field for the first lap and a half, and then, having out-climbed his competition, headed straight for the finish line, finishing minutes ahead of his nearest competitor. Tham, approaching the finish line in a small pack, sprinted to a third place finish.
The Women’s A field broke up in the first of three laps, with the lead group widening its advantage over the pack. Bever, Cates, and Humblet were all in the lead group, and as the race ended, Bever and Humblet sprinted up the final hill to cross the finish line in fourth and fifth place. Buckley, who had broken away from the main pack on the long hill finished tenth, with Cates following shortly behind in 13th.
Steve A. Block G, the newest member of the road cycling team, powered through most of the field on the hills for an eighth place finish in the Men’s C with Zach A. LaBry ’08 hanging in to finish on the tough course. Emily B. Fox G, Liz M. George ’08, and Natalia H. Gardiol G secured more points for the team and for themselves in the Women’s C category, placing fifth, ninth, and 13th.
Coming into Sunday’s criterium (short-track) race, MIT was ranked second overall for the weekend among both DI and DII teams. The criterium was held on a small loop, less than half a mile in length. The Men’s D team dominated, with Schrauth taking first in every intermediate sprint. Tham and Tracy also scored several points in the intermediate sprints, and although the team’s many attempts to break away from the main pack were unsuccessful, Tracy placed second, with Loomis, Schrauth, and Tham all placing in the top ten.
The last race of the day, the Men’s A criterium, lasted an hour, and saw the men’s field fly around the small loop far faster than any of the racers in the previous categories. Sears fought the pack gaining many points in several of the criterium’s fast-paced sprints.
Eric M. Edlund G, in only his first season of racing, also scored sprint points, adding to team’s large tally for the weekend. Though Edlund was thoroughly drained after his sprint, he still fought to remain in the race. “I pulled over at the MIT barbeque and called for a quick shot of ketchup. With a mouthful of poor-man’s power gel, I rejoined the race,” said Edlund.
Following the Men’s A race, the awards ceremony brought team members to the podium to celebrate several victories. The team claimed both the weekend and season overall wins, and the Women’s A, Women’s B, Women’s C, Men’s A, and Men’s D time trial teams all made trips to the podium.
Chris Tracy scored more points in the Men’s D category than any other racer in the region, and took the podium to accept first place individual overall in the category.
Having secured the conference title, MIT is sending its top nine racers to the national competition in Lawrence, Kansas on May 12-14 to compete for the national title against the country’s best collegiate teams in the team time trial, road race, and criterium. MIT Cycling is a club sport at MIT and welcomes athletes of all levels.