Friday, athletes headed across a 4 mile causeway to the desert Antelope Island for a 19 mile team time trial in the middle of the Great Salt Lake. An out and back course on the eastern edge of the island, the race started with a gradual climb before a fast decent to the coastline and then another small hill at the turnaround. Fierce headwinds coming off the lake buffeted roads from the North, making the return leg ultimately the key location where all time gaps between teams occurred. Starting early in the DII field, Notre Dame came out of the gate quickly with the team of O’Donnell, Lee, Pratt, and Magro sustaining speeds near 37 mph in the tailwind section. By the turnaround, ND had erased most of the 2 minute gap between Weber State and Montana State, who had began 4 minutes before the Irish, was also in sight. Battling the wind for the final 9 miles, the Irish overtook Montana State 14 miles in, and passed Weber State within sight of the finish. Behind the motor of O’Donnell, Lee and Magro crossed the line setting the early best time of the day and later good enough for 11th place.
Starting on the front line as Midwest conference champion, Magro led the Irish into the National Championship Criterium with hopes for a high finish. In the opening laps, Magro rode near the front of the field, while O’Donnell and Pratt worked their way forward. With the strategy of sending O’Donnell into early moves, while keeping Pratt in the field for a potential lead out in the closing laps, O’Donnell bridged up to a small breakaway 15 minutes into the race and took 3rd in the first prime sprint. Caught by the pack, O’Donnell continued to ride aggressively at the front until a hard crash took him out of the race. While sprinting out of the group, O’Donnell clipped a curb and was thrown from his bike, breaking his collarbone in two places and ending a promising Nationals weekend. Back in the field, Magro also had some bad luck with a front flat leading to relegation to the rear of a 100 rider field. Taking the free lap to switch wheels, Magro was never able to completely regain his positioning as high winds and multiple crashes led to a frantic final 30 minutes. Finishing a disappointing 35th, Magro looked to the road race Sunday for better luck and a better performance.
With a career performance, climber Nathaniel Lee led the Irish brigade in the DII road race. Summiting the North Ogden Divide climb only 5 miles before the finish. Lee was glued to the front of the pack as rider after rider was dropped on the climb. As the grade increased to over 15% 2km below the summit, Lee limited his losses and then was joined by Magro during the descent. Working with riders from Air Force and Duke, Lee and Magro raced across the valley floor to finish 30th and 32nd respectively. Farther back, John Pratt rode easily into the finish after highlighting the early stages of the race.
A massive crash took out nearly half the field just 3 miles into the event. With both Magro and Pratt ahead of the accident, and Lee able to chase back into the main group, ND was well represented in the flurry of attacks that followed. Richard Geng of Colorado Mesa University finally slipped free of the field, and opened a gap of nearly 3 minutes back to the peloton. To keep the field in contact with Geng, Pratt first rode tempo at the front of the field for ND, then attacked the race and rode solo for the next 10 miles. Forcing the larger teams to respond, Pratt was soon caught, but the aggressive riding brought Geng’s lead down to only 30 seconds, setting the stage for the final climb out of Ogden.