James Pratt (Jr), Anthony Pratt (Fr), and Sarah Cullen (Jr) represented the Irish at Collegiate Nationals in Marshall & Burnsville, NC on May 13-15. It was all 3 racer’s first collegiate nationals, and all three had a great experience racing with the top collegiate riders in the country.
The road race was a ~23 mile course in Marshall, NC with four substantial climbs per lap. Sarah raced in the women’s D2 race of two laps. Within the first 5 miles, there were several crashes due to wet roads and sharp turns on descents. Unfortunately, a crash occurred right in front of Sarah, and she rode off the road to avoid running over the fallen rider. Already near the back of the pack, Sarah lost contact with the main group of riders and began chasing. About halfway through lap one, Sarah slid out of a sharp left turn and rode into a rock wall on the side of the highway. Both Sarah and her bike were okay, and Sarah eventually found a group of 5 other riders, most of who were involved in earlier crashes, to finish the race with. Sarah placed 26th/42 riders.
James and Tony rode very strong on the first lap of their 3-lap race. Both tried to start near the front on the climbs and fell back during the climbs. They were able to move up to the front of the pack on the long descents, using their weight to their advantage. Both Tony and James survived the first lap. However, on the second lap, first James and then Tony were dropped on the difficult climbs. Tony finished the race in 30th place. James finished shortly after in 43th place, and nearly collapsed after crossing the finish line, proving that the course was incredibly difficult and he put all he had into the race.
On Saturday, the criterium took place in Burnsville, NC in the foothills. The course featured a very sharp, almost U-turn, at the bottom of a steep downhill. A long climb up to the finish line helped break up the large fields.
Sarah took the course very cautiously, and was dropped within the first lap. She was gaining time back on the peloton on the third lap, but unfortunately was pulled before catching up. Sarah came in 34th place.
James and Tony raced very strongly in the Men’s D2 crit. They both were able to move up in the field and survive the first several laps in the field. There was a minor crash about 7 laps in that Tony was involved in and James was stuck behind. Both were given free laps, but James was reinserted behind the group and was unable to catch back up. Tony survived a few more laps before being pulled from the race. Only about 12 riders finished the entire race, so Tony and James stayed in longer than many riders. James came in 46th and Tony came in 37th.
On Sunday, all 3 raced in individual time trials. The course was 12.4 miles long with about 400 feet of uphill.
Sarah finished in 34:06 and placed 9th in women’s D2.
James finished in 31:11 and placed 22nd in men’s D2.
Tony finished in 29:20 and placed 12th in men’s D2.
Once again thank you to everyone who made this race season so great! We had a great time at Nationals and are looking forward to racing in Colorado next year!