By Evan Cooper
When the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference got together on Saturday to kick off week 1 of its season at Grant’s Tomb, the racers would have been better off in kayaks than on bikes.
The real battle on Saturday took place not necessarily between the racers, but against the elements, as temperatures hovered in the low 40’s all day while the wind howled upwards of 30 miles per hour and the rain drove persistently, only growing in strength as the day wore on. Due to the horrific conditions, the organizers chose to shorten the course to a track-style race with a 180-degree turn-around at each end of a short loop. Though the decision certainly made the race safer, it by no means made it any easier, as the racers fought just to keep their bikes upright as they were buffeted by raging winds from all directions. It was a nightmarish day to say the least, but those brave enough to pull on their rain capes and suffer the horrific conditions put on a good show.
In the Men’s A race, the final collegiate race on the schedule, University of Vermont’s Alex Cox rode to victory after helping to form the winning move in the opening laps of the 60-minute event. Rounding out the podium were fellow breakaways Trevor Eide (Dartmouth) and Aaron Meyers (Bucknell University).
By the time the Men’s A racers took to the course, conditions had deteriorated, and only 39 racers toed the line as compared to nearly 60 last week. Only 28 riders finished, a testament both to the conditions and to the furious pace that began with attacks from the gun. With the pounding rain and the ceaseless headwind that molested the racers for the length of the finishing stretch, it was a day for the break.
The combined Women’s A/B race saw MIT’s Martha Buckley claim her second win of the season as she continues to battle for the conference leader’s jersey with Harvard’s Anna Mcloon, who slotted in fourth. In second and third were Laura Ralton (MIT) and Elle Anderson (Dartmouth), respectively.
In the separately scored Women’s B race, Molly Hurford (Rutgers) pedaled to first ahead of Aimee Layton (Columbia) Kimberly Ann Zubris (Boston University).
Earlier in the afternoon, Vermont’s Tristan Baldwin continued his dominance of the Men’s B field, taking his third victory of the season after he crossed the line first in both the time trial and criterium in week one at Rutgers. Baldwins’s victory came after bridging alone to Princeton’s Aaron Horvath, who escaped earlier in the race. Horvath held on for second as Jonathan Dreher (MIT) took third.
In the Men’s C race, Tufts’ Cole Archambault proved fastest as he outkicked Brandon Sullivan (Cornell) and Christopher Carper (MIT) for his first win of the season. Though the weather wreaked havoc on the fields throughout the day, the Men’s C racers managed to remain largely intact, providing for an exciting sprint finish that was an uncommon sight on a day that saw more racers coming in alone or in small groups.
Katty Applin (Northeastern University) won the 30-minute Women’s C race ahead of Cynthia Nijenhuia (Cornell) and Elske Straver (University of Pennsylvania).
In the Men’s D1 race, the first of the day, Vermont’s Scott Igo gave a preview of things to come, scoring the school’s first of three victories on the day. In second and third were MIT’s Zachary DelNero and Marc MacLeod.
Nathaniel Schub (Brown) was the best of the D2 men ahead of the Rochester Institute of Technology duo of Dan Ipp and James Parascandola.
Men’s and Women’s Intro
In the Men’s Intro race, Middlebury’s Chris Matteri bested Matthew Syska (RIT) and Andrew Vogeler (University of Pittsburgh), while in the Women’s Intro Shaena Berlin (MIT) rode in ahead of Gina DiNunzio (Rutgers) and Kristen Railey (MIT).
A fixture on the East Coast racing calendar, Grant’s Tomb is always a highly anticipated race and regarded by many Eastern racers as the first big event of the year. This year’s edition, though, was more a lesson in the perils of putting on a race in the Northeast before winter is ready to pack up for the year. In every field, racer after racer steered themselves off the course as they succumbed to the savage cold, hoping for better conditions on Sunday at Stevens.
Evan Cooper is a student at Tufts University.