The Notre Dame cycling team continued its racing season this past weekend at races hosted by Michigan State and Michigan. Despite freezing temperatures in all the races (ranging from 10-30 degrees), the team remained strong, determined, and produced some great finishes.
The race weekend started off with MSU’s Get Tough Road Race characterized by its long, winding dirt roads and loose gravel. The Men’s D category was the first off and David McKenna (grad.) rode to a strong third place finish by beating out a few other riders in the final sprint. Scot Stanulis (Fr.) competed in his first collegiate cycling race and shows great promise for future racing. The Women’s B team followed shortly after and had some great results with Handy earning 2nd, Valenzi 4th, and Cullen 6th after the Irish trio initiated the days winning 7-woman breakaway. Next up were the Men’s B’s, represented by Thomas Frederick (grad.) and James Pratt (So.). Both were riding strongly in the field until mechanical mishaps got in the way. The dirt roads proved unlucky for Fredrick as he flatted only 15 miles into the race. Pratt was powering on until a painful cramp prevented him from finishing. The Men’s A race was a success with Snitzer (Sr.) securing an impressive 8th after breaking away in a chase group in the final lap. Tilmans (grad.) took second in the field sprint to earn a solid 15th in his first race back this season.
The afternoon continued with the individual time trial that consisted of a fast 6.8 mile course. There were multiple strong finishes across the board for the team. For the Women’s B category Handy placed 1st, Cullen 2nd, Valenzi 5th (despite a flat tire in the last 200 meters), and Maggie Schmid (Jr.) 6th. Frederick rode to a strong second place in the Men’s Bs, only 13s off the winner’s time. Snitzer recorded a personal best on the course and finished 3rd in Men’s As.
Action continued on Sunday in Michigan’s criterium held in Ann Arbor. Chilly temperatures and wind picking up throughout the day made for some exciting racing. The Men’s D’s kicked off the race day for the team with a successful 7th place finish by McKenna who was aided by teammate John Cerney’s (grad.) work to keep him towards the front of the race. Ryan Green (Fr.) recorded his best finish of the year with a solid sprint finish. Scot Stanulis (Fr.) also showed promise for the D squad, making his racing debut. The Women’s B’s took to the crit course next. After a timid and slow first lap, Handy and a rider from Marian broke away together. The two stayed away from the main field and Handy ended up taking 2nd. Valenzi and Cullen continued comfortably in the pack with Valenzi winning the pack sprint for 3rd place and Cullen with 5th place. Sarah Bueter (Fr.) and Schmid, competing in her first-ever mass start race, both rode into the top 15 as well. In the Men’s B’s, the race stayed together as a pack until the final sprint. Pratt was in good positioning for the sprint, as he was first into the final turn. He unfortunately dropped his chain coming out of the turn and fell towards the back of the pack. Luckily, Frederick finished well in the sprint, earning 7th. The Men’s A race proved exciting for all watching and competing due to the constant breakaway and chase groups forming and dissolving. Snitzer worked his way into the breakaway group of 7 that finally managed to stay away. With 4 laps to go, his group lapped the main field and the two groups merged. Tilmans helped keep Snitzer towards the front going into the final turn. In the end, Snitzer was 6th and Tilmans 16th in a powerful Men’s A field.
Despite the painfully cold temperatures, it was a successful second weekend of racing in the MWCCC for the Notre Dame cycling team. The team sits in second place overall in the conference, ahead of all other division II programs and only behind reigning division I national champion Marian. The team will be back in action the weekend of April 11th and 12th at Purdue University.