It’s notoriously difficult for a host school to win its own race weekend because of all the other responsibilities that the club must manage. From working with local police to close the course roads to coordinating housing for visiting athletes, there’s a lot that goes into a successful weekend of collegiate racing. In an exceptional organizational effort led by Zach A. LaBry G, MIT not only successfully adapted the weekend’s events to the nor’easter that blew through the weekend of Friday, April 1, but also had enough energy left over to dominate in the races themselves.
The team time trial event is traditionally a strength for MIT due to the team’s attention to detail in efficient aerodynamic riding and teamwork, but Beanpot saw a particularly good showing. Paced by Katie J. Quinn G, the women’s A squad won the 12 mile race by over three and a half minutes. The men’s A team managed a third place finish despite starting the race a man down, and the men’s B and C teams put in exceptional performances, winning their races by minutes over the competition.
Sunday’s criterium race on Tufts’ campus featured a highly technical course with six corners and short but steep climbs and descents. MIT riders showcased not only their strength, but also the technical skill and tactical awareness that it takes to be successful in demanding “crits” such as this. In the men’s C race Steven Y. Ji G and Keith A. Berkoben G created a breakaway with some strong riding at the front and then both held on for top-five finishes. The men’s D race saw a definitive solo win from road newcomer (but mountain bike pro) Jason D. White G, who will surely be working his way up the collegiate categories quickly in the coming weeks. MIT’s biggest presence was in the men’s B race, where after a few laps a 14-rider selection had been made, five of whom were MIT riders. Despite repeated and sustained attacks, MIT was unable to shake the persistent chase efforts of Harvard, Dartmouth, and Tufts riders. In the end the team managed to grab five of the top ten spots, with Joseph P. Near G the top finisher in third place.
The A women put on a tactical clinic. Quinn made the first move, and Laura R. Ralston G and Martha W. Buckley G soon joined her in an all-MIT breakaway. With perfect cooperation the three MIT riders lapped most of the pack. In the end Quinn took out the win, as she seeks to lay claim to the individual overall conference lead and don the prestigious yellow jersey.
Overall, the weekend highlighted the team’s strength amongst newer riders, which bodes well not only for the remainder of the season, but also for the continued success of MIT Cycling for years to come.