Williams cyclists invade West Point

The Williams Cycling Team rolled into West Point this weekend after a string of impressive criteriums and the challenging Cornell road race. Despite their recent success, it was clear that the Ephs were not content to rest upon their laurels, as they both started and finished strongly. Four tough events awaited the team: the Individual Time Trial, the Road Race, the Team Time Trial, and the Criterium.

In the Individual Time Trial, or ITT, the Ephs heated up the rainy course. A third place finish in the C race by Aaron Applebaum ’01 was complemented by sophomore Andrew Gow’s sixteenth place in the B race. In the men’s and women’s A race, senior Ben Stafford completed the fastest Eph time to secure eighteenth while Megan Lawson ’98 earned the first of her many medals with a second place performance. Soon the rain subsided and the cyclists traveled to the new road race course.

Intense downhills, one hundred and eighty degree turns, and near perfect road conditions all contributed to make the road race incredibly fast. However the speed soon turned out to produce more than adrenaline rushes. Five minutes after the start of the C race, the D cyclists began the fourteen-mile loop. Quickly a break formed of three riders, a chase group emerged of four cyclists, and the pack began to follow down the hill. The speeds of over fifty miles an hour proved catastrophic as two riders from the chase group fell on a turn, but this tragedy was followed by a wheel failure in the pack and an immense wreck. Within seconds tens of cyclists were strewn across the asphalt and grass, and eventually seven riders were taken to the nearest hospital for a variety of injuries. Needless to say, the crash resulted in an eventual delay of the three races taking place, but thankfully all cyclists have been released from the hospital at this time.

After the excitement and long delay, Applebaum continued to perform well by capturing eighth place in Cs. Tom LaRocca ’00 worked well with the freshman to earn thirteenth in the tightly packed final sprint. This success was mirrored in the men’s B race, as Erryn Leinbaugh ’99 and Jim Rowe ’98 safely navigated the treacherous descents and tough uphills to place seventh and thirteenth respectively. In the women’s A race, Lawson once again shined in the afternoon sun as she powered her Chris Chance into second place. All of these wonderful performances only warmed up the crowd for the always exciting men’s A race, in which Captain Jed White ’98 pulled out one of the greatest Eph performances. Though White professed to a lack of sprinting ability, he proved himself sorely wrong with a dominating third place in the field sprint, and a fifth place overall. Not only did White beat some of the best cyclists in the nation including Dartmouth’s sensational Robbie Dapice, but his fifth place was the best men’s A finish in over five years.

The Ephs rested comfortably due to the hospitality of Lawson’s father, and awoke early to begin the Team Time Trial. The fifteen-mile long TTT included moderate climbs and fast descents, and the men’s C team took advantage of both to grab an impressive fifth place. Applebaum, LaRocca, John Wiedower ’00 and Reed Wiedower ’00 finished only five seconds away from fourth place. Not to be outdone, the men’s A team of White, Stafford, Rowe, Leinbaugh, and Gow took eighth, all the more inspiring because only two of the members were A riders while the rest raced Bs.

In the final event of the Army Spring Classic, the Criterium was modified to a Points Race based loosely on a Circuit Race for safety reasons. Instead of simply waiting until the finish to decide who placed where, in a points race one earns points for their place in every lap, and at the end of the race the points are totaled to decide the final places. Though almost all of the Ephs had never attempted a points race, they picked up the concept quickly and adjusted well. In the men’s D race, R. Wiedower picked up some early points and then stayed with the strung out pack to earn seventh place. Similarly in the C race, an early sprint gave J. Wiedower points that he used to hang onto ninth place, while LaRocca stayed strong throughout to take seventh. Carrie Ryan ’00, though still recovering from illness, was infected by the Ephs’ enthusiasm and raced women’s Bs. Her decision proved to be smart, as she also took seventh place. The best performance of the day was handed in by Lawson in the women’s A race, where she proved once again that she is the rider to beat in the Eastern Conference. Though Lawson led out every sprint into the final stretch, she held off challenge after challenge by Wellesley’s Alex Classen to take first place every single lap. When the final lap was over, won once again by Lawson, she had earned both a perfect score and the admiration of every cyclist and spectator. Next week Williams heads to the University of Pennsylvania for Easterns, and the strength and confidence displayed this weekend can only increase.