After nearly two years of rebuilding, the Williams cycling team brought a lineup of mostly rookie racers to the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (ECCC) season opener at Rutgers University on Saturday, where it put in a remarkable performance in both the time trial and criterium events. With full and well-trained squads for both the men and women, Williams proved itself a formidable challenger to the rest of the ECCC field this spring, finishing 28th overall even though no team member raced on Sunday, the second day of racing.
Co-captain Erik Levinsohn ’12 put in the Ephs’ strongest finish of the day in his first ever race, capturing first place in the men’s ‘D’ individual time trial. Despite technical difficulties later in the afternoon during the criterium, Levinsohn managed to grind out a seventh place finish in a field of 63 riders.
“It was clear that he was on a victory pace during the high intensity effort, and we knew he had been riding strongly in training,” said Head Coach Joe Cruz. “Still, to have a rider who has never raced against the clock before show the discipline to win it all is fantastic.”
In another standout performance, co-captain Hanna Saltzman ’12 took fourth place in both the women’s ‘C’ individual time trial and criterium. “Criteriums – races run over a short course with difficult corners that change from lap to lap – are highly tactical, and equally a measure of fitness and savvy,” Cruz said. “In only her second race ever, Saltzman was calm and collected, and rode absolutely error-free in perfect position every lap.”
Several other Williams riders made strong debuts. Andrea Lindsay ’13 placed 10th in both the introductory women’s time trial and criterium, with Hilary Dolstad ’11 not far behind in 14th in both races. Chan Yee ’13 and Kitty Kistler ’13 also put in determined performances and appear poised for a successful season.
“I can’t wait to see how we improve our tactical skills, as well as continue hard training, to prepare for the next few races,” Saltzman said. “The team has put in so much effort throughout the past few months and they completely deserve the great results we got in our first race.”
Levinsohn echoed Saltzman’s enthusiasm and lauded Cruz’s efforts in helping the young team develop its potential. “Even though it was certainly a change for us to adjust to riding outdoors after being on [indoor] trainers all winter, everyone rode very smoothly,” he said. “Our performance certainly owes a lot to our coaching. Cruz has done a wonderful job of getting us prepared for these races.”
“We traveled to the season opener at Rutgers with a young, inexperienced team,” Cruz said. “But to see our riders race this weekend you wouldn’t know any of that. The Williams team was simply spectacular. This is the most focused and switched-on group that I’ve coached in my four years.”
The cycling team will continue its season this Saturday at the Grant’s Tomb Criterium, hosted by Columbia University in Manhattan.