One of the great things about collegiate racing is the variety of environments to which a rider is exposed. Riders get a chance to see many different college campuses, towns, and types of terrain. In the Southeastern Conference, large state-funded public universities like Florida State University, Georgia Tech, and Clemson compete with small, privately funded colleges like Lees-McRae, King College, and Mars Hill College. Last weekend, 25 Southeastern schools got a chance to see the small mountain town of Mars Hill, and for the first time this year, riders were faced with the challenge of mountain roads.
Starting last Saturday morning, the team and individual time trials went off around 9 a.m. It was a colder morning than we were used too lately, in the 40s at race start, maybe colder. Lots of booties, arm warmers, and knee warmers were on display, especially from the Southern schools. The Mars Hill men rode smooth on their home course and won the event for the second week in a row, topping Cumberland University and Brevard College. The Mars Hill women were the only ones to enter and used the event as preparation for the upcoming national championships in Madison, Wis., in May.
As soon as the time trials ended, it was time for riders to get some much needed fuel before the grueling road races started that afternoon. In the men’s A road race, the weak were separated from the strong early on; with wind gusts of over 30 mph and the relentless hills of Madison County, something had to give. Lees-McRae’s former pro Brian Sheedy took the win, with Mars Hill’s talented climber Matt Willing riding to a strong second, and Peter Haile (Lees-McRae) rounding out the top three.
In the women’s road race, Cinthia Lehner from Lees-McRae showed off her climbing legs and took her first win of the weekend. Molly Hubbard of Clemson finished second, and Lauren DeCrescenzo of Emory University in Atlanta took third.
Sunday marked the criterium, which was held in Asheville on a flat and fast one mile loop around the Biltmore Square Mall, a welcomed respite from Saturday’s hills. Peter Haile (Lees-McRae) played the team card and took the win from a 5-man breakaway that included three Lees-McRae teammates. Brian Sheedy placed second and Alejandro Padilla (Cumberland) was third. Mars Hill’s Paul Webb came in fifth. In the women’s race, Stephanie Bunnett (Mars Hill) attacked on the last lap but got edged out at the line by Cinthia Lehner, who time her sprint perfectly and took her second win of the weekend. Klara Rossouw (Mars Hill) was third.
Next race for the team is this weekend at King College in Bristol, Tenn. Keep up with Southeastern Conference action and the Mars Hill team at www.marshillcycling.com and at www.facebook.com/marshillcycling.
Ryan Levander is a senior athletic training major at Mars Hill College, where he competes on the cross country and cycling team, enjoys blogging on his website (rednavelracing.com), taking pictures, and eating far more calories than he could ever burn.Read the full article