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Courtesy of USA Cycling

Julie van der Hoop competes at the Cycling Cyclocross Nationals at Ashville, NC.

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Julie van der Hoop G and Corey Tucker G finished 5th and 22nd, respectively, at the recently-concluded Collegiate Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championship held at Asheville, North Carolina.

Cyclo-cross circuits are renowned for their treacherous terrains, steep slopes, and miscellaneous obstacles. The one at Asheville was touted to be a “devilishly difficult course full of punishing climbs, tricky off-camber turns and gnarly descents.” Moreover, rain the morning of the final race had made the course even more challenging, but as van der Hoop puts it, “that’s one of the joys of cyclocross, though — everything and anything can change, but only sometimes to your advantage.” As the race started, the fatigue from a long, embattled season seemed to get the better of van der Hoop, but she stepped up her game to reclaim fifth place in the final lap and secure a spot on the podium.

Finishing in the top five at the nationals was one of the goals van der Hoop had set at the beginning of the season. The journey to her finish at the podium began with her completing bike trails around Boston with the MIT cycling team. To get acclimated to racing conditions, cyclists would do mock-race training sessions at Larz Anderson Park in Jamaica Plain, hosted by the Back Bay Cycling Club.

To compete at Nationals, one needs to be an A-level racer in at least three races in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (ECCC). Van der Hoop, who finished as the series leader in the ECCC, was joined by Tucker and Alex Springer ’16 as MIT representatives in the Cyclo-cross nationals.

For van der Hoop, who has been with the MIT cycling club since 2011, finishing at the podium was yet another feather in her cap in a season in which she had already finished as series leader and competed at the Canadian Nationals. For Tucker, who is a seasoned road-racer, it was “a time to decompress and do some stupid fun stuff between road seasons.”