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The MIT Cycling Team successfully defended its championship title in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference last weekend, concluding conference competition. Two full days of racing at Vassar College saw the team place second for the weekend and first overall for the season in Division II.

Saturday began with the team time trial (TTT) event, in which teams of three to four riders race a five-mile course. The men’s B team won its division, beating its closest competitor, the University of Vermont, by more than 40 seconds. The women’s C team also scored a victory, beating the University of New Hampshire by just over 20 seconds, and the women’s A team placed second behind UNH. “We worked hard and stayed together as a team. It was great to have teammates who push you hard and cheer you on when you get tired,” said women’s C rider Lisa F. Marshall G.

The second event of the day was a road race with two grueling climbs, totaling over 3000 feet per lap. A short, steep climb five miles into the 30-mile course quickly separated the elite competitors. ”Starting the 1000-foot vertical climb behind everyone else was tough, but working with teammate Zach [A.] LaBry, we got to the top in a much better position,” said Guilherme I. Fujiwara ’07, who went on to place 15th in the men’s D race.

Former MIT cross country and track runner Martha W. Buckley G zipped up the hills to a fourth-place finish in the top women’s category, netting the most individual points for MIT for the day.

The final event of the weekend was the criterium, a short-course road race, held on Sunday.

Anthony J. Schrauth G had one of the breakout performances of the day, with a fourth-place finish in the men’s B field. “Coming around the final corner, there were two Boston College guys in front of me. When the second guy in line came around and started his sprint, I tried to stay with him, but I couldn’t hold his wheel. At that point, I stopped thinking and just pushed as hard as I could,” Schrauth said about the sprint to the finish.

The race was not without incident, however, when Seth S. Behrends G was taken down in a crash. After running to the pit to swap out a flat tire, he attempted to re-enter the race. Unfortunately, a sudden blowout required him to take another replacement wheel. Despite these difficulties, he got back in to the field of racers and finished 15th. “There was so much adrenaline flowing that my legs actually got a little shot of energy from the whole thing. The biggest impact was all the support from teammates and hearing the cheers each lap,” Behrends said.

At the end of the weekend, Zuzana Trnovcova ‘09 took the podium to accept first place in the women’s C category, which she earned by scoring the most individual points all season in that field. Nick C. Loomis G and Yuri Matsumoto G also took the podium for their season-long successes, having placed second in men’s D for Division II and third in women’s B for Division II, respectively.

With the conference championships over, MIT will send Eric M. Edlund G, Christopher H. Tracy G, Jason A. Sears G, and Schrauth to compete in the men’s races at the collegiate national competition in Lawrence, Kansas. Caitlin Bever G, Buckley, Ilana L. Brito G, and Kristen M. Naegle G will compete in the women’s races.