2011 Collegiate Road Nationals Preview: Division I

  
  


Wondering who to watch for at the 2011 USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships? We’ve asked the experts, the Collegiate Conference Directors, to give us their picks for each category, based on what they’ve seen week in and week out during the regular racing season, which started all the way back in February and just wrapped up this past weekend. Yesterday we revealed our Division II picks, and here is our preview of the Division I races.

Division I Women

The Division I Women’s field will be missing its perennial star this year, as Carla Swart of Lees McRae College was tragically killed earlier this year when she was struck by a car while training in her home country of South Africa. Ready to carry on her legacy for Lees McRae College, however, SECCC champion Rachel Warner will come straight from the Tour of the Gila to lead her collegiate team in Carla’s memory, along with teammates Cinthia Lehner and DI Cross-Country Mountain Bike national champion Erica Zaveta.
RMCCC Director Spencer Powlison is placing his (figurative) money on Miss Erickson (Fort Lewis College).
RMCCC Director Spencer Powlison is placing his (figurative) money on Miss Erickson (Fort Lewis College).

The battle will be a tough one, however, as Wisconsin native Kaitlin Antonneau (Marian University), runner up at Collegiate Cyclocross National Championships in December and winner of the 2010 Collegiate Points Race National Championship, has MWCCC Assistant Director Jones’ confidence in the criterium, while Antonneau’s teammate Jackie Kurth is looking good for the road race. The only woman to beat Antonneau at Collegiate Cyclocross Nationals last year, Ashley James (Appalachian State University), also a native of Wisconsin, will be looking to claim victory as the Atlantic Conference (ACCC) champion. Returning after last year’s absence, however, is Anna McLoon (Harvard University), who both ECCC Directors Kopena and Sullivan agree is poised and ready for victory: “Anna is racing her last Collegiate Nationals ever. After being in the hunt for several years she might just be able to pull it together for her last hurrah. Nothing motivates the same way as good bye,” says Sullivan.

Meanwhile, RMCCC Director Powlison has faith in Missy Erickson (Fort Lewis College), saying, “Missy is on another level this year, as are most of the FLC women. Some of our races just turned into informal team time trials, with three FLC girls off the front, methodically lapping the field.” SCCCC Director Matthew Reynolds is betting on one of his riders claiming victory, however, saying, “Natalie Klemko (Midwestern State University) looks to rebound from an injury-riddled last couple of years. She won the 2007 Collegiate National Championship criterium in Lawrence, Kansas, and proudly wore the National Champion’s jersey the following season. Natalie has the experience to be in the mix in both the road and criterium in Wisconsin, not to mention that Natalie will be racing in her home state for the first time in her Midwestern State kit and looks to close out her collegiate career in high fashion. She’ll be supported by an experienced MSU women’s squad, who helped deliver the criterium title last year to Jennifer Purcell.”

From the NCCCC, Conference Director Guthart says, “Gracia Folkeringa (University of Minnesota) exploded onto the scene with dominating early season wins. Using that as motivation - or perhaps finding that home-baked cookies actually do serve as a good pre-race meal - Amber Markey found her groove and finished the season with strong wins as well, setting her up as a potential factor for Nationals.” Perrenial contenders, however, and a team with one of the strongest women’s programs in the country, the University of California-Davis will field a strong team of four women, led by WCCC champion Karianne Burns.


Division I Men

While 2010 DI Individual Omnium winner, Rob Bush (Marian University), broke his clavicle earlier this season and is still recovering, and 2010 DI criterium champion Josh Carter (Midwestern State University) is not returning to Madison this year, Blake Anton (California Polytechnic-San Luis Obispo), winner of the 2010 DI road race, will return to defend his title, while also balancing his racing with his new duties as Male Athlete Representative on the Collegiate Board of Trustees. He’ll have fellow WCCC rider and conference champion, Eric Lau (Stanford University), who is well supported by his Stanford squad, to contend with, though, as well as a whole slew of WCCC strongmen, including Joseph Iannarelli (California State University-Sacramento), Brian Larsen (University of California-Irvine), and Sam Bassetti (University of California-Davis). Out of the MWCCC, though, Greg Christian (Michigan State University) is predicted to put up a strong fight in the road race, while Tim Norris (Lindenwood University) has strong potential in the criterium. NWCCC Champion Davis Shepherd (University of Washington), has the build of a true climber, which will be necessary for Friday’s road race, which will gain over 8,000 ft of elevation by the time its 72 miles are completed.
Will Blake Anton (Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo) be able to repeat his RR victory in 2011? We'll find out on Friday
Will Blake Anton (Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo) be able to repeat his RR victory in 2011? We'll find out on Friday

From the SECCC, Conference Director Haslick says, “Lees McRae again will field a stacked team, with conference champion Zachary Felpel and consistent top performers Brian Sheedy and Peter Haile leading the way.  The wild card could come from the University of Florida, as they are sending a trio of strong riders to compete in Shawn Gravois, Kyle Rohan, and Derek Schanze.” Riders from the RMCCC almost always manage to find their way onto the podium, however, and Conference Director Powlison predicts Zack Allison (Colorado State University), Alister Ratcliff (Fort Lewis College), and Josh Yeaton (University of Colorado-Boulder) are his conference’s best bet this coming weekend.

SCCCC Director Reynolds has a lot of confidence in one of his riders in particular, though: “When it comes to road racing in Texas there is one name that strikes fear in the hearts of the competition, HAGA. Following in the footsteps of his older brother and National Championship medalist Chad, Shane Haga (Texas A&M University) is becoming one of the most respected riders in the SCCCC, having crafted his skills while taking on the Midwestern State juggernaut. A smart, tactical rider, Haga knows when and where to make his move. Also watch out for Midwestern State’s Jason Short. Jason has been in the mix many times at National Championships, but has met with bad luck time and again. He’ll have the full support of a very strong Midwestern State team and will have the power of Francis Soap behind him.”

ECCC Assistant Director Sullivan says, “In the Road race, Charlie Zamastil (Temple University) is my dark horse.  His climbing is solid and his race savvy has improved a lot this year.  He has no teammates, but that hasn't stopped him yet this year.” Kopena disagrees, however, picking Max Korus (University of Pennsylvania) for the road race, and a podium in the criterium, adding, “He hasn't been racing as much as last year, but he's at least as strong and much more confident.  He also feels like a much calmer, smarter bike racer now that he's done a lot of higher tier races where he couldn't simply rely on his power to crush everyone.” The NCCCC’s Guthart has faith in his riders’ chances, however, saying, “This year's season has proven to be a back and forth battle on the individual front. For the DI men, the University of Iowa team has been pretty dominating all year... to the point where other clubs were excited to travel to the frozen tundra of North Dakota just because Iowa wasn't going to show. This domination paid dividends to both Andrew Buntz and Kevin Tempel, who both found themselves on top of the podium throughout the year.” For his conference’s TTT chances in the DI men, Guthart added, “There are only four letters you need to know: I-O-W-A. As a team, these guys are as good as it gets, forcing the other teams to fight like dogs over table-scraps after a Thanksgiving meal.”

Finally, a bit of backstage trash-talking between the Conference Directors took place over email earlier this week, as ACCC Director Kevin Long was happy to point out to everyone that one of his riders, Alex Weiler (University of Maryland) won the ECCC Championship criterium, with another ACCC rider, Ben Warren (Virginia Tech) claiming third in the same race. ECCC Assistant Director Sullivan shot back “The word on the street was that the ECCC was feeling really bad that the 'Men' of the ACCC were only able to finish 20 minutes down on the road race. It isn't very neighborly to invite guest to join you and then spank them around both days they are visiting,” adding that a ‘spanking’ would be defined as a noun, meaning a top road race finish of “21st at 17 minutes down, and a string of DNFs.” Ouch!

The real battle (and real winners) will come this weekend, however, in Madison, Wisconsin, on the stage of the National Championships.

Lees McRae will be looking to repeat their Cyclocross victory from this past winter on the road this weekend.
Lees McRae will be looking to repeat their Cyclocross victory from this past winter on the road this weekend.

Division I Team Omnium

The most coveted title available in Madison is the Team Omnium, the overall National Championship awarded to the team made of the fastest all around men and women. Last year’s winner, Marian University, will be looking to defend their top spot on the podium, fresh off their victory as MWCCC Team Champions. They’ll face the usual competition, however, as Lees McRae College hopes to duplicate their Cyclocross Team Omnium victory from December on the road in Madison, and improve on their second place from last year’s event. With perennial powerhouses such as Fort Lewis College, University of California-Davis, Stanford University, Midwestern State University, and Penn State University in the mix, each bringing strong squads well balanced between their men and women, all have more than a fighting chance to win the prestigious title. Not to be forgotten, Indiana University-Bloomington is bringing a larger and stronger team than in recent years, while Appalachian State University competes in their first year as a Division I school, having moved up over 15,000 full-time students last summer.

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This Article Published May 3, 2011 For more information contact:
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