Riders were greeted with sunny weather for the first time in 2 race weekends this past Saturday as sunny skies and warm temperatures found the University of Illinois at Carbondale. Saturday’s road race course featured a seven mile “stem” leading from the start/ finish onto a 9 mile loop. The entire course would through a state park filled with lakes, forest, and rolling hills.
The first Notre Dame rider to compete was Jenn Perricone in the 42 mile Women’s A race. A third of the way through the competition, Jenn maneuvered herself into a breakaway of 4 riders who were clearly the class of the field. Being one of the strongest sprinters in the group, Perricone looked to be in excellent position for a win until, with less than 15 miles remaining; her chain was jarred loose at the base of a climb. Forced to dismount and fix the problem, Perricone lost a great deal of time to the leaders. This gap proved too large to close; however, the 4th place result was an excellent showing and bodes well for future races.
Josh Johnson followed Perricone in the 33 mile Men’s C category. Johnson rode in the center of the pack for most of the race to avoid the powerful crosswinds. In the final kilometers he moved towards the front of the pack and sprinted to a 12th place result.
Douglas Ansel and Joe Magro represented Notre Dame in the 42 mile Men’s B road race. The first 7 miles of the race were run at a pedestrian tempo but attacks began the instant the field began the first of three laps around the loop. A breakaway of 3 formed on the first major climb and quickly established a 25 second gap on the main field. Ansel hit the front of the peloton and began working to reel the break in, but a lack of cooperation from other schools paralyzed his efforts. The pace soon slowed again until, seeing an opportunity to attack coming around a turn into a headwind, Magro accelerated off the front and took off in pursuit of the breakaway. A rider from Marian University came along in Magro’s slipstream, but refused to help bridge the gap as Marian was already represented by two riders in the existing break. In an impressive display of strength, Magro caught up to the break and the group, now 5 riders, quickly established an insurmountable advantage over the rest of the race. By the end of the third and final loop, Magro’s break had put over 3 minutes on the main field and it was clear the winner would come out of this selection. The final miles of the competition were ridden at a lethargic pace, with no member of the breakaway wanting to expend unnecessary energy. When the finish came into view, the three Marian riders launched a final lunge to the line, but Magro was positioned perfectly to counter their effort. Coming out of the Marian slipstream with 100 meters to go, Magro powered past to take his second win in as many weeks. Back in the main field, Ansel was able to escape the group with 5 kilometers remaining but was swallowed by the peloton with barely a kilometer left to ride. Exhausted from the effort, he still sprinted to 4th place in the field, good for 9th overall.
The clear skies of Saturday were replaced with a cold rain Sunday morning as riders raced through the campus of Southern Illinois in the criterium event. Two short climbs and descents on the .6 mile course made speeds of over 35 miles-per-hour commonplace throughout the day. These speeds, coupled with rain, poor pavement, and sharp turns proved to be a recipe for crashes.
Josh Johnson was the first Notre Dame rider to discover the danger of the course in the 30 minute Men’s C race. All riders were on edge due to the conditions, but the cautious nature of the field was not enough to keep everyone upright as halfway through the event a number of riders slid out and skidded across the pavement coming through a turn. Johnson was able to avoid the other bikes, but was forced into the grass where he too crashed. Unfazed, after quickly checking his equipment Johnson rejoined the race and bettered his result of the day before with an 8th place finish,
Clearly not paying much attention to the conditions, the Men’s B race containing Magro and Ansel got off to a blistering start with Ansel setting the tempo for many of the early laps. The group was quickly weeded out to the 15 strongest with both Ansel and Magro present. 25 minutes into the 45 minute event, Magro ran over a piece of glass and shredded his rear tire. Feeling the loss in pressure, he was forced to pull off and eventually abandon the race. Ansel’s luck was not much better as, less than a mile after Magro’s abandonment, he took a hairpin turn at speeds over 26mph, crashed violently, and tore a huge gash in his left thigh.
Jenn Perricone closed the weekend’s action for Notre Dame in the Women’s A race. Early in the event, two Marian riders escaped off the front of the field with Perricone, a rider from Lindsey Wilson, and a rider from DePauw giving chase. These five riders eventually came together and left the weaker main field far behind. Perricone placed 5th in the final sprint, giving her two top fives for the weekend and her best showing yet of 2010.
Riders of all categories competed in the road race on Saturday morning. The course was mostly rolling with one large climb and steep descent per 19 mile lap through the wilderness of Defiance Missouri. Nate Lee and Josh Johnson got the action started for Notre Dame in the 38 mile Men’s C Road Race. Both rode strongly throughout the event and could be spotted towards the front of the field for much of the morning. On the final lap, with a leading group whittled down to only 10, both Nate and Josh put in strong sprints and finished in 3rd and 5th places respectively.
Next up for Notre Dame were Ethan Ferguson, Douglas Ansel, and Joe Magro, all racing in the 57 mile Men’s B category. As the riders rolled off the start line a cold rain began to fall and the wind picked up setting the stage for an epic race. The first lap was highlighted by the attacks of Ansel as time and time again he tried to break away from the main field. When the pace finally settled, Ansel’s accelerations had dropped all but 12 riders with both himself and Magro still in the mix for the win. By the top of the final climb at mile 45, only Magro remained in the shrinking front group of 8. Over the next 12 miles Marian University, who was still represented by three riders, launched attack after attack but Magro was able to match their accelerations. With 250 meters to go, Magro attacked himself and quickly distanced the other riders notching Notre Dame’s first win of the season by a comfortable 7 bike lengths.
Jenn Perricone represented Notre Dame in the Women’s A race. While originally scheduled for 57 miles, this race was cut to 38 because of the worsening weather conditions. Marian University dominated much of the race with their large team dominating the other riders. Four Marian riders broke away from the field, but Perricone was able to ride strongly on her own in pursuit and came in solo for the sixth place finish.
Sunday morning saw riders flying through downtown St. Charles, Missouri in the criterium event. The course was kilometer long with sections of cobblestones and one 150 degree turn. Josh Johnson was awake bright and early to compete in the Men’s C race. Things started well but quickly turned sour for Johnson as he found himself trapped behind a quickly weakening rider. As a result Johnson lost contact with the main field and although sprinting for two laps in an attempt to catch up he was forced to abandon.
Hoping to avoid the misfortune of Johnson, Ansel and Magro both made a point to ride towards the front of the Men’s B race. As was the case most of the weekend, Marian’s higher numbers allowed them to attack time and time again until a breakaway of 3 was formed with one of their riders. Both Magro and Ansel attempted to bridge the gap to the break but the winds were too strong to ride quickly alone. Realizing chase was futile, both Notre Dame riders stayed sheltered in the field until the final laps. Ansel finally reappeared with 400 meters to go as he railed the final turn and separated himself from the pack. The field wouldn’t see Ansel again and he finished first in the field sprint or 4th overall. Magro wasn’t far behind and capped off an excellent weekend for ND riders in Men’s B with a 7th place finish.
The Women’s A criterium was much the same as the road race the day before. Marian University attacked time and time again until their riders had all escaped together off the front of the main field. As more rain began to fall Perricone took it easy to avoid crashing on the slippery cobblestones but still finished highly in 12th overall.
In a nice break from the perma-cloud and frigid temperatures of South Bend, the men’s cycling team traveled to Murray, Kentucky this past weekend for the first races of the collegiate season. Saturday’s completion kicked off with the 36 mile Men’s C road race featuring two ND riders, sophomore Ethan Ferguson and law student Josh Johnson. No attacks were launched during the first 18 miles of the race but the pace rocketed up at the beginning of the second lap as a multitude of accelerations rocked the front of the field. In the final 500 meters of the race, a sudden swerve by a rider in the center of the peloton caused a chain reaction crash which took out Johnson. Ferguson managed to avoid the accident and notched a 13th place finish.
The last race of the afternoon, Men’s B, also contained two ND riders, PhD student Douglas Ansel and freshman Joe Magro. This 48 mile event over the rolling Kentucky hills started in much the same fashion of the Men’s C race with few serious attacks. Around mile 20 a breakaway formed with 4 riders and quickly gained over a minute’s advantage over the main field. Attempting to bridge to the break, Ansel attacked the peloton on the largest hill of the course but the 12mph cross winds on the plateau above proved impossible to ride alone and he was soon reeled back to the pack. At this point, Lindsey Wilson College began to block for the breakaway, which contained one of their riders. When the advantage reached over 1:30, Magro moved to the front of the field and set a 27mph tempo for the next 20 minutes drastically cutting into the deficit and reducing the main field to 15 riders. Unfortunately, at mile 30, a rider swerved into Ansel and jammed his quick release into Ansel’s rear wheel. After stopping to assess the damage, Ansel was unable to continue. After the break was swallowed by the 15 man chase group, the pace drastically slowed until the final mile when Indiana and Lindsey Wilson College began to set up their sprinters for the finish. Magro was boxed into the center of the field during the final dash to the line but was still able to salvage a 9th position.
Sunday’s racing was held on a fast sweeping 1 mile course in suburban Murray. Ferguson and Johnson again competed in the Men’s C race and were. The field largely stayed together throughout the race and Ethan spent time pulling at the front keeping the tempo high. Johnson largely stayed protected in the field as the winds were in excess of 10mph on the largely exposed course. Johnson put in a strong sprint and finished 10th while Ferguson also was towards the front and came home 15th.
Attacking began from the gun in Sunday’s Men’s B race as the field averaged around 30mph for the first 3 laps. Magro and Ansel both rode at the front of the field and largely controlled the speed to discourage any early breakaways from forming. Knowing if a Lindsey Wilson rider managed to escape the field their team would begin to block, Magro covered all Lindsey Wilson riders who attacked off the front of the pack. Unfortunately, the one rider that wasn’t covered established the break of 3 which lasted until the end of the race. The main field was largely uncooperative in working to pull the break back so Ansel and Magro both cruised in the top 15 and prepared for the sprint at the end of the race. A decision was made to set the sprint up for Magro, so Ansel hit the front of the main field with about 800 meters to the finish and threw down a massive attack to string the group out into a line. His acceleration was so great Ansel actually established a 50 meter gap on the field. Seeing this, Magro got off the front and Ansel time trialed alone to the finish. While he was overtaken by the winner of the field sprint, Ansel still came home in 6th position. Magro finished a few riders back from Ansel in 11th.
After a lot of laziness on many many parts, I, Natedogg, have decided to start a new blog for the Notre Dame cycling team. In it you will find important team information, race reports, schedules, funny nonsense etc. Enjoy.