COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (VN) —Collegiate racers from the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling conference were treated to hilly races this weekend at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. A team time trial kicked things off on Saturday morning, and was followed by a criterium next to Falcon Stadium in the afternoon. Sunday the students faced a challenging road race based off the 1986 world championship course.
After Mesa State’s dead-flat time trial course last weekend, many racers were caught off guard by the mostly downhill 8.5-mile course. The teams of four started on the north side of the campus, climbed a steep kicker that would later serve as the feed zone for the road race, and then descended a fast, sweeping road for the remaining 6 miles to finish just past Falcon Stadium.
After a delayed start due to some confusion at the registration desk, the riders took off at 8:45 in a race that favored teamwork over pure strength. The Colorado State University men had obviously been practicing, and won every men’s category for the second week in a row. Fort Lewis College beat out Mesa State and the University of Colorado in the Women’s A race, while the University of Wyoming fielded the only Women’s B team.
The criterium was run so close to the TTT that many Men’s C racers opted to stay in their riding clothes and ride the course in the 60 minutes between the races. As usual, the Men’s C criterium began with a 15-minute clinic on drafting and cornering. The racers were quick to put their newfound skills to the test in the 35-minute race.
After a solo flyer from Joey Chiavetta (CSU) was pulled back, his teammate Matt Fox jumped from the field and proceeded to tear the race apart in the increasingly windy conditions. Fox took a solo win ahead of Brandon Odum (USAFA) and Jacob Hadar (Mesa).
Next up were the men’s Bs, who seemed reluctant to attack on the short, undulating course. A series of surges and a hard tempo set by Colorado School of Mines shed half the field over the course of the 40-minute race. Matt Nunnelly (CSU) handily won the uphill field sprint ahead of Danny Hiller (CU) and Stefan Zavislan (USAFA).
The Women’s B race was next, with the small field riding a 35-minute race. As expected, the race shattered within the first 10 minutes. Riders were all over the course riding in groups of one and two. Abigail Mickey (CU) took the win ahead of Kate Wold (CSU) and Brooke Bosman (Mesa).
The 60-minute Men’s A race followed the formula that had been established earlier this season: A large break formed with every team represented and went on to lap the field. In an interesting twist to the usual formula, the entire breakaway didn’t lap the field at the same time.
Attacks from CU and FLC managed to isolate conference leader Zack Allison and ever-dangerous Richard Geng (Mesa). Allison eventually caught back on with 300 meters to go, but it was too little, too late. CU went 1-2 with Josh Yeaton winning the sprint ahead of Jesse Goodrich and Alister Ratcliff (FLC).
The women’s A race was the final collegiate race of the day, and just in time, as clouds and rain were quickly moving in. Lauren Taylor (FLC) quickly established a large lead ahead of Sarah Madsen (Mesa) and Sarah Sturm (FLC), who were followed by what remained of the peloton. Taylor took an impressive solo victory while her teammate Sturm beat out Madsen in the final sprint.
With the first race starting at 7:30, many racers faced an unwelcome early wakeup call. First off the line were the men’s B riders, many of whom weren’t used to waking up early, and seemed sluggish on the first climbs.
The hilly course, winding through the academy grounds, slowly took its toll on the field, reducing the peloton to 20 riders by the final sprint. A crash with 800 meters to go took down multiple riders, but didn’t stop Howard Grotts (Mines) from winning the steep uphill sprint ahead of Gabriel Bershenyi and Peter Anderson (Both CU).
The men’s C field started its 41-mile race shortly after the men’s Bs, and coincidentally played out in a similar fashion. The course broke the field into small groups, many of which reabsorbed one-another on the final lap. Matt Fox (CSU) was first to jump coming into the final climb, and held off the field to take his second win of the weekend, beating Brandon Odum (USAFA) and Josh Swift (Mines).
Next up were the women’s A and B riders, who faced a 41- and 27-mile race, respectively. The hills and increasing wind quickly turned the road race into an individual time trial for most of the women. Brooke Bosman (Mesa) won the women’s B race ahead of Kate Wold (CSU) and Sarah Phillips (Colorado College). Sarah Sturm continued Fort Lewis’s streak of dominance in the women’s A race, beating out her teammate Missy Erickson and Sarah Madsen (Mesa).
The men’s As were last to start, and faced five laps of the hilly course for a total of 68 miles. Near the end of the first lap a four-man break rolled off the front containing Richard Geng (Mesa), Ryan Dorsey, Griffin Easter (both FLC), and Stefan Gomez (CU). A lap later Brett Peters and Tyler Nabours (both CU) rolled off the front and opened a 1-minute gap, while the gap to the larger break ballooned to 5 minutes.
At this point it became clear to the rest of the field that the race had become a battle between Josh Yeaton (CU) and Zack Allison (CSU) for leadership of the conference standings. With three laps remaining, Dylan Jones (CSU) attacked the field and eventually made contact with Peters and Nabors.
In the meantime, the field had shattered, with Yeaton dropping Allison for good, and Alister Ratclif leaving the field solo in pursuit of the breakaways. Jones eventually shed Peters and Nabors with one lap to go, but was joined by Ratcliff soon after. Jones and Ratcliff quickly ate up the break’s advantage and caught the four with 5 miles remaining. Ratcliff blew past the breakaway, and only Jones and Geng could hold on. Ratcliff eventually shed Geng and Jones before the finish and took a well-deserved solo win, while Geng outsprinted Jones for second.