The Notre Dame Cycling Team returned to action this weekend at the first conference race of the season at Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, KY. Racing kicked off with a team time trial on Saturday morning. The women’s B team of Sarah Cullen (So.), Paige Handy (Jr.), Lillie Romeiser (Grad.), and Kelly Valenzi (Fr.) rode to their second victory of the season. Their time was so fast that they beat several varsity teams and would have taken 2nd place in the A category. The men’s D squad was plagued by a flat tire early on but still took 3rd in their race. Mechanical difficulties also plagued the men’s A team during their ride, but they managed a 10th place finish.
Saturday afternoon brought high-speed criterium racing to downtown Greensburg, KY. The course was new for 2015 and consisted of a small hill on the front stretch with a fast but bumpy descent on the back half of the course. The women’s B team continued on their success from the morning. Handy, Cullen, and Romeiser went 3rd, 4th, and 5th respectively. Unfortunately Emma-Kate Conlin (So.) and Valenzi were also poised for top finishes but removed from contention by dropped chains late in the race.
In the men’s D race, David McKenna (Grad.) impressively rode to a top 15 finish in his first-ever criterium. David Berno (Jr.) finished right behind the winner in 4th place, beating a few opponents by a bike-throw at the line. In men’s As, an 8-man breakaway formed halfway through the race. Jim Snitzer (Sr.) attempted to bridge the gap but was caught after several laps by the main field. John Pratt (Sr.) rode steady at the front of the peloton and finished 12th to earn some valuable points in the A race.
Sunday concluded the weekend with a very eventful day of road races. The course was the classic 25-mile, hilly loop that Lindsey Wilson has used for the past several years. However, the start-finish line was moved from a hilltop to a downhill section. Shortly after the racing began, there was a large crash in the women’s A field. A few riders suffered serious injuries, and, as a result, all races were suspended until riders could be attended to and the course cleared. After about an hour delay, the races were re-started. Connor Williams had the best finish of the day, rebounding from crashing on Saturday in the criterium to get 2nd in the men’s C race. The women’s B team rode to several more top 10 finishes. Tom Frederick (Grad.) and James Pratt (So.) rode strongly in the men’s B field with Frederick recording a personal best, 8th place, finish after breaking away from the main field in the final miles. In the men’s A race, which was reduced by one-lap due to the re-start, Pratt was poised in the lead group with a shot at taking the victory in the final sprint. He made the mistake of starting his sprint a little to early, but still managed to finish a very impressive 7th place.
Overall, despite some bad luck with mechanical failures, it was a successful start to the MWCCC season. The team will return to action next weekend in races at Michigan and Michigan State.
Notre Dame Cycling sends our thoughts and prayers to all riders involved in Sunday’s crashes, especially to Lindsey Wilson rider Hannah Hayduk, who was taken to the hospital in critical condition. Heal up fast and know that you have the support of the whole collegiate cycling community!