Week 5 2012 Recap: MSU/ Michigan

Lansing, Ann Arbor MI– The men’s C road race kicked off the festivities Saturday morning. Featuring  5 miles of dirt roads per lap, Michigan State’s European inspired course presented unique challenges to riders all day long. After an uneventful first lap, ND rider’s David Pratt, Luke Tilmans, and Jim Snitzer hit the dirt section hard, hoping to shed down the size of the field. They formed a break of 12 going into the final lap and gapped  4 more riders before the final mile. The C leadout train allowed Pratt to dominate the sprint finish by several meters and take ND’s first C road race victory of the season. Snitzer followed in 3rd and Tilmans crossed the line 5th. Freshman Mike Chifala finished comfortably in a small chase group behind the leaders. Late Saturday afternoon, Snitzer won the C individual time trial by over 1:30 with a time that was 11th fastest of any category that day.  On Sunday, Notre Dame’s season long stranglehold on the C field continued. David Pratt completed the weekend sweep, delivered to an easy victory by the work of his teammates. After many failed attempts at breakaways throughout the course of the race, the peloton was intact for a field sprint. Taking third wheel before the final two turns, David Pratt shot out of the pack like a cannonball to win the race and get his 2nd win in 2 days. Snitzer took 3rd and Tilmans 4th again put 3 ND riders in the top 5. To date, the C squadron has won three straight mass start races in a row as well as notching 7 podium more finishes.

With Andrew O’Donell moving up the the big show, the men’s B squad was down a man but still looked to continue its season long dominance. In the road  race, a three man break-away quickly went up the road and, rather than giving Notre Dame the opportunity to win another race, the peloton was content to let the move go, despite the best efforts of John Pratt. Nate Lee led out Brian Hurley for the field sprint and they took two of the top 10 spots. In the Time Trial, the B’s shook off their tired legs from working in the road race and took 1st (Lee) 2nd (John Pratt) and 4th (Hurley). Looking to snag another win after a disappointing road race, the B team  was aggressive in Sunday’s criterium winning multiple prime point sprints. Halfway through the event, John Pratt rode himself into the winning break and with Lee and Hurley blocking the chasing field there was never any doubt ND was picking up another victory. Pratt easily sprinted out of the break for the win while Lee led out Hurley for 6th place.

Coming in over 18 minutes ahead of the main field, a breakaway containing ND rider Joe Magro led the men’s A race from nearly start to finish. As early attacks spread  riders thin across the central Michigan countryside, dirt flew as Marian, then Lindenwood, then Marian again sent waves of riders off the front of the peloton. Riding well n his first A race, Andrew O’Donnell kept Magro out of trouble on dirt sections and in contact with the leaders. Ten miles into the race, a group containing 4 Marian, 3 Lindenwood, and 1 athlete from Purdue finally broke free of the field. With an enormous kick, Magro soloed across the gap and the breakaway quickly pulled over 5 minutes clear. Outgunned at the finish, Magro tried to slip away on the left 300 m from the line, but was caught 60 m from the finish and held on for 8th place. Showing his time trialing strength, Andrew O’Donnell placed 3rd in the ITT Saturday afternoon, beating multiple professional riders and only missing the win by 20 seconds. On Sunday, wide fast roads inhibited breakaway attempts for the first half hour of the criterium, with riders from most schools attempting to lose the field. Finally, a group of 5 took to a 15 second gap and, with the race going down the road, Magro again found himself crossing a gap to the leaders alone. After making contact, the breakaway began to put significant time into the field, and once joined by another 5 Marian and Lindenwood riders, the contest was over. Nearly lapping the field, Magro took another top 10 finish while O’Donnell scored valuable nationals qualifying points with a pack finish.

Only two riders, August Kunkel and Rob Piscatelli, represented the Irish in the Men’s D category for the weekend.  August was able to navigate an inexperienced field to secure a top ten finish in both the road race and the criterium.  He finished strong in the criterium even though he punctured his front tire during the last lap.

After the weekend’s results, ND held steady to the 5th place conference ranking (1st in DII) and moved closer to Purdue in the race for top club program in the Midwest. Magro increased his lead in the Men’s DII Individual standings.