BERKELEY, Calif. (VN) — This weekend a plethora of collegiate cycling teams flocked to Northern California to race, despite the finals and midterms that were looming ahead. A considerable amount of riders from the Western Collegiate Cycling Conference teams were ready to fight for the podium and score points at the University of California-Berkeley Road Race and Criterium.
Suffer or Out-Suffer Festival
The road race would take place about 20 minutes away from the hippie-infested suburban of Berkeley, and onto the open roads of Crockett. The race consisted of 10-mile laps, starting off with a series of small rollers and descents, then the infamous chain-breaking McEwen climb that involved grades up to 15 percent, then finally a small descent and climb, ending each punishing lap. The Men’s A’s would have to do six laps, while the women did four laps.
In the men’s A race, Grant Cutler of Stanford decided to ride off the front from gun, and established a solo break till he was caught on the second lap. The second lap was where the action started — various riders from UCSB, UC-Berkeley, and Stanford formed an eight-man break from an attack on the McEwen climb, only to be reeled in shortly after.
On the fourth lap, eight riders attacked from right before the McEwen climb, forming a small but motivated break of eight riders. Eric Lau of Stanford attacked from the marginal group, but was shortly reeled in, and a couple minutes later, he viciously attacked again, gaining a gap of 10 seconds that grew with every pedal stroke. Stanford, with two men in the chase group, foiled any attempt to organize a successful chase group. It was well into the fifth lap before something was finally organized, but Lau was far from anyone’s sight. Lau took first, and the dismantled chase group rolled through with Tony Rodriguez of UC Davis placing second, and Scott Ferguson of University of Nevada-Reno placing third.
Melack attacks and attacks again
The women’s A race rolled out five minutes after the men’s A start. On the first lap, Megan Melack (UC-Santa Cruz), Katie Hall (UC-Berkeley) and Dani Haulman (UC-Davis) attacked on the McEwen climb, forming a successful break for three laps, when the motivated pack finally chased them down and caught them right before the McEwen climb. Again, Melack attacked on the hill, bringing along Hall and Ariana Peck of Stanford.
Melack eventually rode off the front, dropping Katie Hall, who flatted moments later. Melack rode in solo for the win, while Peck took second. The podium was rounded out by UC Davis rider Karianne Burns.
A Day of Rainy Railing
The criterium was based in the heart of Berkeley right next to campus, where there was a lively Sunday ambiance of city folks strolling by, and a small section of the Berkeley Marching Band to cheer on the cyclists. The four-corner course had an uphill start and finish. Women raced 45 minutes and men did an hour on the course that averaged just one minute per lap — enough time to make anyone dizzy after their race.
In the Women’s A race, road race winner Melack attacked on the second lap, and was reeled back in quickly by a motivated field. For a significant amount of time, the field was at an uneventful state — waiting for someone else to make a move, until Katie Hall of UC-Berkeley decided to attack, bringing Melack. The breakaway would eventually be reeled back in, but as it was being caught, Joana Bechtel (UC-Berkeley) launched a counterattack.
However, even with such a motivated acceleration, Bechtel was still pulled back just as fast and the race turned into a stalemate again. Hall broke the stalemate and was joined again by Melack. Hall couldn’t stay with Melack, however, and dropped off, allowing Melack another solo win. Hall was second and Karianne Burns of UC Davis was third.
In the Men’s A field, the race started fast and furious from the gun. Sam Bassetti (UC Davis) launched an explosive attack on the second lap, bringing along Rand Miller (UC San Francisco) and Jordan Kestler (both UC Berkeley). Even with the torrential rain that was flooding the course, the break drilled it harder and harder around every corner, gaining a significant amount of time against the field.
After the riders in the field realized they could be lapped, they got motivated to chase down the break. An attention-worthy break that consisted of riders from Sacramento State and UC Santa Cruz formed, but brought along UC Davis and Berkeley riders who slowed the chase, and the group was soon caught. Minutes later, Bassetti’s break lapped the field, with the riders in the breakaway sitting in tightly, waiting for the finish. Although there were a few attempts from the breakaway riders to go for the glory and establish another break, all attempts were ineffective, and the field rolled in as Bassetti took first, Rand Miller second, and Jordan Kestler placing third.
Allan Hu is a member of the UCLA Cycling Team