St Charles, MO– For St. Patrick’s Day weekend the Notre Dame Cycling Team traveled to the emerald pastures of St. Charles, Missouri for their second race weekend of the 2012 Road Racing Season. Lindenwood University hosted the inaugural MWCCC/NCCCC Challenge where riders from both the Midwest Collegiate Cycling Conference and the North Central Collegiate Cycling Conference competed head-to-head to determine not only who were the best riders in each of the respective conferences but also which conference packed the most power overall.
Saturday started early with the Men’s Category B Team Time Trial. The Notre Dame team consisted of Joshua Corcoran, David Pratt, his brother John Pratt, and Andrew O’Donnell. The 13-mile “lollipop” course started out flat and fast but soon unveiled its bitter side as the riders were faced with a twisty Category 5 climb. The climb proved challenging but the team was able to successfully navigate the course to a victory with a time of 30:29 besting the next best team by 0:45.
The road race started later that morning and as the day wore on the temperature rose and the air got heavy. The course followed a 20 mile loop which consisted of two major climbs that were sure to shatter the fields and leave the sprinters begging for mercy. Despite the grueling course and large field of MWCCC and NCCCC riders, Carolyn McCann bested the hills and rolled to a very commendable 17th place in the Women’s C field. Corcoran joined David Pratt in the Men’s C race. The field of 50+ men tackled 2 laps of the course, which saw a finishing group of 7 riders break away from the rest of the field. In his first race of the season Corcoran finished 18th with
teammate Pratt following a close 24th. With dark ominous clouds rolling into the area the Men’s A and B races started. Less than 2 miles into the race lightning began to strike and the thunder roared. The officials promptly neutralized both fields and ended the race as torrential rain and hail began to pelt the riders.
Sunday started with the Men’s C criterium in historic downtown St. Charles. Again Joshua Corcoran and David Pratt contested with a large field of 46 riders. Within a few laps of the brick curse the field quickly dwindled to less than 30. Pratt and Corcoran were comfortably in the lead group and maintained perfect positioning throughout the 40-minute race. Pratt finished a career best 11th with Corcoran on his tail at 13th. McCann again took it to the women’s field. The pack splintered with McCann in the trailing group. However in just a few laps McCann was able to put in a tremendous effort to claw back into the lead group and hold on for 17th. With fresh legs from an abridged road race John Pratt and Andrew O’Donnell were poised to put a good effort in the Men’s B criterium. The race started brisk with many riders launching attacks in the first 20 minutes of the 45-minute race. With 22 minutes to go O’Donnell launched from the pack and started his solo attack. Pratt executed
perfect team tactics as he allowed only a small chase group of 4 riders off the front in pursuit of O’Donnell. The pursuit proved fruitless as O’Donnell finished solo off the front for the first mass-start win of his career. With his teammate up the road Pratt was able to hang in the front of the main pack and even launched his own attack with less than 2 km to go. The field was unresponsive as he cruised to a solo 2nd place. Douglas Ansel represented Notre Dame in the Men’s A criterium which started fast and only got faster. Ansel made it into a lead group of 10 riders that formed with 20 minutes to go in the 60-minute race. Realizing that the break would not stay away Ansel wisely returned to the field to conserve his energy, which he used to finish a very commendable 18th in a field loaded with firepower.
As the team loaded their vehicles for the long drive back to South Bend they were summoned to the officiating tent There they were promptly informed that small team of only 6 riders scored more points than any other Division II team that weekend and were presented with the first ever MWCCC/NCCCC Challenge Division II Trophy.