Notre Dame’s John Pratt and Jim Snitzer represented the Irish at the Collegiate National Championships in Asheville, NC on May 8-10. As the top 2 DII riders from the MWCCC, the two seniors went into the weekend confident and ready to take on the nation’s best collegiate cyclists.
The 3-lap, 75-mile road race took place on Friday afternoon in Marshall, NC, just north of Asheville. There were 4 significant climbs in the first half of the course before a flat last 10 miles along the French Broad River into the finish. By the time the race started, it was extremely humid and temperatures had reached the upper 80s. The conditions made staying hydrated and fueling properly especially important. Both Notre Dame riders stayed near the front of the race during the first lap. Pratt found himself in a small breakaway group that got away for a few miles before being caught at the beginning of lap 2. Snitzer responded to numerous attacks on the next couple climbs and found himself in a select group of 12 that was chasing a few small breakaway groups. With about 20 miles to go, Snitzer made his own attack in an effort to bridge to riders up the road. After being away for about 5 miles with a rider from Mars Hill, the two were caught by the group behind. As they came to the finish, sprinting for 8th place, Snitzer suffered from cramps in his legs, but still managed to finish 16th overall. Pratt also experienced cramping during the last lap from dehydration and lack of electrolytes and ended up 46th.
Saturday’s criterium course in downtown Asheville included a large climb and fast descent with a sharp corner at the bottom of the hill. The race was certainly not a traditional criterium. With over half of the field being pulled from the race, it came down to which riders could consistently match the pace up the climb each lap. Another day of hot temperatures made the race even more difficult. Pratt and Snitzer found their way into the second group on the road, only behind the 10 leaders. With about 15 minutes remaining in the race, Pratt put in acceleration on the hill to bridge his way to riders falling back from the leaders. Racing for 11th place the, Pratt slid out on the last turn in the final lap. He quickly remounted and finished 14th, while Snitzer finished shortly thereafter for 20th.
Racing returned to Marshall on Sunday for the final race of the weekend, the individual time trial. Pratt posted the early best time of the day, riding the 20km course in 28:40. By the time Snitzer finished with a time of 28:31, the two were sitting in 2nd and 3rd. After all riders had finished, Snitzer was 7th and Pratt 10th overall. Both of them were less than 25 seconds off the podium.
It was the final race and proud end to a successful season for Notre Dame Cycling. Thank you to all our sponsors and supporters for a fantastic year. We are already looking forward to the 2016 road season!