The Williams Cycling Team racked up an impressive string of high finishes in the last two weeks. With races in New Haven and West Point, the cyclists continued to earn points bringing the team closer to a berth at Nationals. After an intensive break in South Carolina consisting of long hard rides through some of the most mountainous terrain on the East Coast, the team returned north to participate in the Yale Race Weekend. The weekend consisted of a road race on Saturday and a criterium on Easter Sunday.
The Road Race was clearly the most physically demanding course to date, as it included a long, steep incline followed by a series of shorter, but no less steep, hills. The twelve-mile loop also featured a long, windy backstretch and a steep, uphill finish. In the D race, the small field separated after the first lap into one break group and several chase groups. Reed Wiedower ’00 continued to mash the mountainous terrain up just as he did in South Carolina, earning him eleventh place. John Wiedower ’00 was not as successful in the Cs, and dropped out after falling off the pace in the second lap. Likewise, Erryn Leinbaugh ’99 found the hills too daunting in the A race. Andrew Gow ’00 reversed the trend by displaying great strength on the huge hills, and even managed to both pull the pack as well as lead some attacks. His good position and excellent training allowed him to finish fifteenth among the top cyclists in the nation on one of the tougher road races.
In the criterium, Williams began strongly only to finish tragically. The D riders faced fourteen laps of a mile-long loop with one steep incline and broad turns. Originally to be run as a points race, the coordinators opted for the criterium format at the last minute, to the relief of many a rider. R. Wiedower raced quite strategically, as he broke with another cyclists with two laps to go. A strong counter attack left him back in the pack finish, but with a hard fought ninth place. Following the D race, the seventy odd riders of the C field assembled and started their seventeen laps. The large group proved to be good for J. Wiedower, as he conserved energy on non-prime laps, and sprinted hard to stay near the leaders of the pack on prime laps. With one lap to go Wiedower and a Williams alum racing for Cornell bridged up to the break group. The momentum of the attack allowed him to survive the counter attack mounted by the pack, and finish tenth among a surge of cyclists. The good fortune of these races abruptly changed in the A race, as Leinbaugh first was forced out with a broken spoke with four laps to go. Though Gow had scored prime points for the team at the beginning of the twenty-five mile race, his luck also ran out with two laps to go. Squeezed off by another rider, Gow planted his head directly in the hard dirt next to the pavement. Though he got up and rode his damaged steed to the finish, memory loss and disorientation forced him to nearly collapse upon crossing the line. After an ambulance took the injured Eph to the hospital for x-rays and a CAT scan, the other cyclists learned that he had suffered a concussion but was otherwise in satisfactory shape.
Gow’s concussion forced him to skip this week’s races at Army’s Spring Classic, consisting of a Team Time Trial, a Road Race, an Individual Time Trial, and a Points Race. Leinbaugh’s presence fighting a massive forest fire near Springfield along with sophomore Will Ronco’s 10K event at a track meet forced the team to cancel their team time trial unit, but the Ephs charged head long into the second road race of the season despite the obstacles. The road race consisted of a 13.6 mile loop through beautiful Harriman State Park, with a screaming downhill and long three mile climb.
Learning from last year’s disaster in the D field, the Army organizers made it a neutral start so that all the cyclists could recognize the danger of the steep downhill leading to a 180-degree turn at the bottom. The Ds avoided sending a dozen cyclists to the hospital this year through the neutral start, and yet still managed to reach quite dangerous speeds throughout their race on the steep descent.
R. Wiedower successfully defended against several attacks through the 27-mile course, and fell into a chase group near the finish. By passing a Drexel cyclist on the downhill finish, he continued his climb through the D ranks into a solid eighth place. The C riders faced three tough laps and 41 miles of beautiful scenery and less than perfect racing. Despite a tough first and second lap that dropped over a third of the field, the Cs took it fairly easy on the final turn until they reached the home stretch. J. Wiedower was pinched off as he attacked in the final 500 meters, but his nimble Litespeed Vortex pulled around and accelerated through the sprinting cyclists to take fifth place by inches.
Aaron Applebaum ’01 continued the Williams dominance in the B race, which due to time constraints had been shortened to the same distance as the C race. Displaying race intelligence, Applebaum jockeyed for a lead position during the final mile, only allowing himself to be passed as the field spread across the road. Applebaum unfortunately found himself boxed in by the other riders, but still managed to claw his way up to an impressive seventh place finish. By this time Ronco had arrived from the track meet, as had Leinbaugh from the fire, and both were busy competing in the grueling A road race. Their former exertions proved too much however, and both were eventually dropped after displaying great heart on the intimidating climbs.
On Sunday morning, the cyclists competed in the individual time trial, all very successfully. R. Wiedower finished fourteenth among the D field with a time of 17:18 minutes over the five mile course, while J. Wiedower took twenty-third in the Cs by completing the course in 16:02 minutes.
Applebaum continued to shine with a strong 14:42 time that earned him fourth place in the B field, while Leinbaugh and Ronco finished thirty-seventh and twenty-fifth, with times of 15:55 and 14:38 respectively. After a brief problem-solving break, the team regrouped for the fast points race. The points race featured a short but extremely steep climb, and then a long descent with a large curve to the downhill finish, totaling around two miles per lap. Because it was held as a points race, the cyclists raced to finish in the top four positions every other lap, with each position winning both team points and points towards their individual race totals.
The winner would be the cyclist with the most points, not the cyclist who merely finished first in the final sprint. In the D race, R. Wiedower took advantage of the first prime lap to hammer the competition on the thrilling descent. His second place in the prime gave him three points which was good enough to hold off almost all of the rest of the cyclists for a strong fourth place overall. The C riders again numbered over seventy, but the large field did little to affect the overall outcome as no crashes occurred. J. Wiedower also attacked on the first prime, grabbing third place and two points which he added onto in the third lap as he again took third. Wiedower hung onto the pack and then fell back for the finish, but his four points earned him sixth place out of the massive field. Applebaum completed the day and his strong weekend by taking second place in the first prime. The three points garnered there ensured him a high place and concluded Williams strong showing at the Army Classic. Even more importantly, the hard-fought finishes of the Williams riders were worth double points at Army, thus bringing the goal of Nationals one step closer to the hard working Williams Cycling Team.