The 2010 USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships were held in Madison, Wisconsin as the best collegiate athletes from across the country met for a weekend of elite racing. Riding for Notre Dame were Jenn Perricone in the women’s field and Douglas Ansel and Joe Magro in the men’s events.
Racing began Friday morning with a challenging Road Race through Blue Mounds State Park. Had Chicago been chosen to host the summer Olympic Games in 2016, this route would have been the site of the cycling events. Snaking through the woods of Southern Wisconsin, the course featured over 8,000 feet of vertical climbing for the 75 mile men’s race and 6,000 feet for the 50 mile women’s race including a mountain of over 2 miles and 800 vertical feet every 15 mile lap. Ansel and Magro were called to the start line at 8:40am, a steady rain serving as a foreboding omen for the racing to come. The first 3 miles of the race were run at over 40mph down the side of a mountain and Ansel soon found himself losing ground as the leading group screamed through the winding descent. Forced to chase back to the group on the flatlands before the larger climbs, Ansel ultimately was unable to move to a secure place in the field and was dropped on the first ascent of the mountain. Magro rode in the quickly shrinking front pack comfortably the first lap. On the second ascent of the mountain, Magro was uncoupled from the leaders but was able to rejoin the peloton, now down to 25 riders, on the following descent. 45 miles into race, and the third time up the mountain, Magro again lost about 20 seconds to the leaders but exhausted from the effort, and unlikely to place highly, he pulled out to save energy for Saturday’s criterium.
Perricone began her race with aspirations of a Podium finish, but the fast deteriorating weather conditions proved a bigger obstacle than any of her competition. Jenn stuck with the front group for first lap, but as the temperature dropped and rain turned to hail she had visions of her crash two weekends ago at the Conference Championships. On the descent of the mountain, Perricone was unwilling to take risks on some of the tighter corners and soon withdrew from the contest.
Hoping to improve on the previous day’s results, all three Notre Dame Cyclists looked forward to Saturday’s criterium in downtown Madison. The 4 corner kilometer long course circumnavigated the state capitol building with the only geographic obstacle being a slight rise between the 3rd and 4th turns. Large crowds turned out to watch the center city event making for a great atmosphere for riders and spectators alike. Perricone got the action going for Notre Dame but, still tentative from her accident at regionals, was never seriously in contention.
In men’s event, over 80 riders from Alaska to Florida gathered at the start line for an hour of lightning fast racing. As Notre Dame’s first rider called to the start line, Magro was positioned fairly well from the beginning, but Ansel was not as fortunate and began the race from the rear. The first five laps were ridden in the neighborhood of 33 miles per hour and Ansel was an early victim of his starting position. 12 minutes into the race, he finally was unlatched from the rear of the peloton and forced to abandon. Magro rode in the center of the field for much of the race and comfortably accelerated with the flurry of attacks that marked the opening laps. Thirty minutes into the race, what was once an 80 rider field had been reduced to fifty with Magro still riding comfortably. With ten minutes remaining, Magro made a move around the inside going through turn 2 and was able to move into the top 15. His good position was short lived however, as an attack from Mesa State brought a multitude of riders to the front and past Magro. In the closing laps Magro again attempted to move into a good position for the sprint, but the speed of the field (race average of 27.5 mph) made his task difficult. At the finish, Magro came home in 36th as Mesa State’s powerful lead out train controlled the final lap and delivered their sprinter to victory.