Because of the Easter holiday, the Midwest Collegiate Cycling Conference only had one event this past weekend, a criterium next to the campus of Marian University in Indianapolis, Indiana. The one mile course featured a hill climb to the start/finish area every lap, as well as a tight S-bend down the hill and strong crosswinds on the backstretch. As has been the case for nearly all of2010, riders were greeted with wind and a steady rain throughout the day.
Notre Dame’s first competitors were Josh Johnson and Nate Lee in Men’s C. Likely because of the miserable conditions, the field stayed largely together throughout the competition. Both Lee and Johnson rode comfortably in the relative shelter of the pack. With 10 minutes remaining in the 30 minute race Lee punctured his rear tire and was forced to abandon. In the final sprint to the line, Johnson finished in the middle of the pack around 17th position.
Ethan Ferguson, Douglas Ansel, Brian Boyle, and Joe Magro all represented ND in the 45 minutes of Men’s B action. This highly competitive race took off from the gun as a larger than normal field shot down the hill and into the crosswinds. Speeds of over 35 mph were hit at times during the early moments of the race and a field of nearly 40 riders was quickly split in half. Boyle and Magro made the first selection of riders while Ferguson and Ansel settled into the second group. Ferguson was clearly the strongest rider in the latter group, but without help from his competitors he was never able to bridge to the leaders. With 20 minutes remaining in the race, a breakaway composed of two Marian riders and one from Lindsey Wilson formed. Magro sprinted out of the peloton entering the crosswind section and was able to bridge the gap to the leaders. The break’s advantage grew to more than 20 seconds until a Marian rider flatted and the Lindsey Wilson rider began to lose strength. With 10 minutes remaining, the field came back together again, but more attacks began the instant Magro’s group was caught. With 3 laps to go, another group of 3 shot off the front of the main field and this proved to be the winning move. Boyle tried to pull the leaders back on the final lap, but Notre Dame had waited too long as the field crossed the line mere seconds after the leaders. Magro placed 3rd in the field sprint for 6th overall while Boyle crossed the line shortly afterwards. Ferguson was the first to finish from his chase group while Ansel, feeling pain from his crash the previous weekend, pulled out of the race with around 15 minutes remaining.
Following this weekend’s action, the stage has been set for the final act of the season. Both Ansel and Magro have now moved to the Men’s A category in the hopes of qualifying for the National Championships (May 8th in Madison, Wisconsin) with Jenn Perricone. Nate Lee also received an upgrade to Men’s B where he’ll join Ferguson and Boyle. Next week the cycling team will be at Ohio State University for the second to last regular season race of the year.