Monday, March 17, 2014

Week 1: Stevens Duck Country RR and Crit

The Yale Cycling Team made its way to New Jersey for the first race weekend of the season! 

Despite the cold and ubiquitous potholes, it turned out to be a successful two days of racing for the Bulldogs.

The weekend started with a 6.2 mile Team Time Trial that had a not-so-gentle climb and many technical turns. Our leading men's D team took a hard fought second place. The other two men's D teams took fifth and sixth. Our Women's C team and placed 5th. Shortly thereafter, the men's A squad worked their way to a mid-pack finish, despite a lack of any substantial warmup.

The afternoon would prove to be more successful for the team. The D racers took off first, only an hour after their time trial. Newcomer and German sensation Jan Wilk stayed near the front of the pack for the 19 mile race and fought for a well-earned fourth place finish. Longtime team member Danny Schlingman came in 16th. Despite Jan's success, three team members hit the pavement due to a course littered with dangerous potholes. ECCC officials take note!

Elif, Adele and Molly did the Women's C road race-- Molly used her superior mountain bike skills to avoid crashes on what were basically craters in the road; Elif stuck with a chase group that slowly picked riders off the breakaway; Adele dropped her chain, put it back on and caught up with the chase group! Molly placed 20th, Elif flatted with 1k to go yet finished 11th, and Adele finished a strong 6th.

Portia killed it on her first Women's Intro Road Race, and placed 7th.

In the Men's Intro, newcomer Gabriel Chait came in third, although the shattered field made determining positions difficult at first. Siyuan Ren, also new to the team, took a strong seventh place. Both riders, we're sure, will soon be right at the front of the pack!

With the warming afternoon temperatures, so too came the men's A race. Several old rivals — MIT, NYU, UVM and others — lined up at the start. Despite the friendly chatter, the Bulldogs took no hostages on the road. Climbing sensation Erik Levinsohn attacked at the top of the first climb on the first lap. He quickly built up a gap. 15 seconds on the first lap, 30 on the second, 50 on the third. Several riders made efforts to bridge up to the flying Erik, but a combination of Erik's strength and Matt's blocking efforts kept Erik out of sight. Soon, the pack decided they were racing for second. Erik took a brilliant victory, complete with a solid victory salute!

The next day's course — a crit billed as a circuit race — caused a far amount of concern. With a bottleneck at the bottom of a descent heading into a series of turns on dirt-covered roads, the Bulldogs approached the race with caution. Your brave captains pleaded for a reconsideration of the race course for the crit. After the race organizers granted a "first lap neutral," (read: "neutral") the riders were a bit relieved.

Jan started the men's D race with a strong solo attack, although he was eventually caught. Still, he managed to regain his composure before a strong third-place finish, and Danny came in 15th.

Adele, Elif and Molly raced the Women's C circuit, where Molly placed 21st; Elif was sketched out by the Women's D field (which had been merged with the C field) and DNF'd; Adele finished 5th with prime points! Portia picked off unsuspecting Intro racers to finish a strong 7th.

In the men's intro, Siyuan brought home a strong sixth-place showing after a hard and fast race.

As with the day before, the afternoon saw the men's A race. With Erik's absence due to a Med School exam (really?), Matt was left alone to try for the victory. After letting Zach Ulissi of MIT slip off the front, Matt was in the first chase group when he got a flat with six laps to go. So, a tough second day for the men's A, but that's bike racing.

Overall, a win and several first races for the bulldogs made for a great weekend!

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