Who to Watch For at the 2010 USA Cycling Collegiate Road Nationals

Who to Watch For at Collegiate Road Nationals

We asked the experts for their picks on whom to watch for this coming weekend in Madison. If you're the betting kind, these predictions from the Conference Directors, the individuals that know collegiate cycling in each conference better than anyone, should be your starting point.

D1 Men's Road Race: North Central CD Mark Guthart is liking Brian Crosby's (University of Minnesota) chances; Brian was the leader of a strong two-man team at track nationals last fall and put the hammer down from start to finish this season. Meanwhile, from down in Texas, Matthew Reynolds, SCCCC Co-Director said, "Chad Haga from Texas A&M is one of the smartest, most talented riders I've ever seen on the road. He is coming into form right now as well and featured very well at road nationals last year at CSU. He won the conference criterium championship by lapping the field." Kevin Long of the ACCC is placing his bets on John Crow of North Carolina State University, while WCCC Director Hanns Hartman favors Will Riffelmacher of perennial team favorite UC Davis. Spencer Powlison, director of the RMCCC thinks Alister Ratcliff of #1 ranked Fort Lewis College brings the Rockies' best chance of a win, while two of the three ECCC directors are favoring Max Korus (University of Pennsylvania) over season strongman Pavel Gonda (New York University). The anonymous third ECCC CD says this, though: "Max probably needs another year of elite experience to hang with truly elite leaders, he just doesn't race smoothly or smartly enough yet." The new Inter-Mountain Conference is sending a lone male rider, but he's proven himself already at two Collegiate National Championships this year, taking the Individual Omnium at Mountain Bike Nationals, and placing well at Cyclocross Nationals, as well: Mitchell Peterson of the University of Utah. IMCCC Director Ira Tibbitts calls Mitchell "an animal." We'll see about that. Southeast Director Nathan Haslick is hoping Georgia Tech rider Stephen Leotis can bring some glory back down south, where half of the conference's schools are unfortunately graduating the same weekend as the event, pulling riders from the race. MWCCC Directors Matt Jones and Andrew Rizzo agree on Kip Spaude of Lindsey Wilson College, who did well at both Collegiate Track and Collegiate Cyclocross nationals in 2009, while out of the Southwest Nancy Ellis believes Michael Sencenbaugh (University of Arizona) will come out on top. Bill Wykoff of the NWCCC submits his sleeper pick, though: Will Niemann-Ross, from the University of Oregon. Upsets are not out of order in an arduous road race like this one, so any or none of these could be the man to watch.

D2 Men's Road Race and Criterium: In the D2 races, look out for German national Richard Geng (Mesa State College), who has bounced back from an ugly crash at the Colorado College Classic Criterium to place well through the end of the regular season. Be sure to keep your eye on ACCC Champ Cory Scott from College of William and Mary, though, says Kevin Long, but Nathan reminds us not to leave Paul Webb (Mars Hill College) out of the favorites for the road race, as he did exceedingly well at both CX and MTB nationals last year, and his teammate Kyle Knott is expected to place well in the crit. Bill says that Colin Gibson of Whitman College, is "very fit and showed great form at conference championships," and could place well or even win the road race for the D2 squad, while his teammate Ben Chaddock, is an "intelligent rider with a great sprint." The local favorite, though, will be Ben Damhoff of University of Wisconsin-Platteville, not to mention the North Central star Pat Lemieux, from Minnesota State University. The ECCC directors split again, however, on the road race, with two picking Trevor Eide (Dartmouth College), and a third having this to say: "Jeff Salvitti from Bucknell has had some great results and seems to be peaking for Nats." Keep in mind, however, that two of those three directors, Joe Kopena and Caitlin Thompson, are set to marry one another this summer, so you might be able to guess which two keep agreeing and why. All three agreed on Eide's very good chances in the crit, however, so that is a positive sign for the Dartmouth rider.

D1 Women's Road Race: Continuing the trend, 2/3 of the ECCC leadership leans toward 2009 runner up and Ryan Collegiate All Star Anna McLoon (Harvard University), calling her "awesome," and "a beast," with both referencing her ritual of contesting the Men's B and Women's A races back to back each weekend. Our ECCC holdout, however, bets on Katy Applin of Northeastern University [ed. note: this CD picked Anna McLoon for the D2 women's race, so if it weren't for that error, she might be the unanimous favorite -JH]. Hanns, though, is betting the California hills and mountains have toughened Courtney O'Donnell (California State University-Los Angeles) enough to overcome the 6,000 ft of climbing, and University of Utah rider Stephanie Skoreyko is one of the few in the peloton actually excited about that number. We'll see how excited she is at the finish. Assistant Midwest Conference Director Matt Jones is betting his Marian University teammate (although he assures us there's no conflict of interest) Sinead Miller (also a 2009 Ryan Collegiate All-Star) can match her nationals criterium win of 2009 in the 2010 road race. She's fresh off some solid racing in Europe, so she's either exhausted or amped: we shall see. Meanwhile, South African Carla Swart (Lees-McRae College) might continue her winning streak, to match her 2009 road race win, and add to her crowded shelf of awards, which includes at least one trophy or medal from every collegiate national championship she's attended over the last two years (she's only missed two); keep in mind that the majority of those awards say 1st on them. She also has experience from the Ryan Collegiate All Stars team. Out of the NWCCC comes Leia Tyrell (Oregon State University): "Leia and Lindsy [Campbell, D2] have been head to head all year and both are pointing towards Nationals," Bill says.Not to be forgotten, however, are ACCC Champion Peggy LeGrand of the US Naval Academy, Fort Lewis College's multi-disciplinary star Magen Long, and the University of Arizona's powerhouse, Melanie Meyers. It'll be a closely contested 60 miles, to be sure.

D2 Women's Road Race and Criterium: The ACCC D2 champion, Kirsten Fee, of Pfeiffer University represents her conference's best shot at a win, but will the Appalachian foothills prepare her for the gargantuan rollers of rural Wisconsin? Climbing strength will certainly determine the winner of the road race, as usual. The relatively flat crit could play to her sprinting abilities, however. Brevard College's Julia Tellman, with a pair of top-20s at Road Nationals last year, and a pair of 3rd places at 2009 Mountain Bike Nationals, just might bring her consistency to the top spot this year if things go her way in the road race, while Nathan expects Klara Rossouw (Mars Hill College) to come out on top in the crit. Rita Klofta (DePauw University), though, will be looking to improve on her 2nd place finish in last year's road race and 5th place crit finish and take what she learned at the Nature Valley Grand Prix as a Ryan Collegiate All-Star to move onto the top step of the podium this year. The ECCC splits its strength, however, between 2009 Collegiate Cyclocross Champion (and yet another Ryan Collegiate All-Star) Arielle Filiberti (Dartmouth College) and Martha Buckley (MIT). Says one ECCC CD of Martha: "She's incredibly strong and has lots of Nationals experience, but pack dynamics and smart racing are not her strength. She needs a small group or a sudden disruption that lets her get away and TT to make it happen." Martha's been dominating the ECCC regular season alongside D1 powerhouse Anna McLoon, so this could be anyone's race, even though Arielle has been "kicking butt," "did very well at Battenkill," "looks very strong, and is consistently able to beat our top women in tight sprints." Leia Tyrell's D2 nemesis, Lindsy Campbell (University of Montana), though, could show everyone up in both races if she continues on as she has this season.

D1 Men's Criterium: Conference Directors are generally putting their money on a different, more sprint and tactic-minded group of riders for the crit. Only Mark Guthart and Kevin Long expect their picks, Brian Crosby of the U of M, and John Crow of NCSU, to double up. Matthew Reynolds, though, switches his crit expectations to Joshua Carter from Midwestern State University. "Josh wins fast races, he is a very smart rider and is always in the right moves. He won every crit this season that involved a bunch gallop and won out of a breakaway a few times as well. Also has a really sweet haircut." As any Europro knows, a sweet haircut is THE key to victory. Bill expects Grant Boursaw from the University of Washington to do his Husky team proud, who have all been dominating the Northwest this spring: "He's the omnium leader and the team is focusing on the Nationals criterium." Hanns bets on another UC Davis star and WCCC Velonews correspondent Adam Switters for the crit, while Spencer expects the Rocky Mountain Velonews writer Caley Fretz of Colorado State University to bring home something worth writing about. At the same time, Nathan is turning to Zach Felpel (Lees McRae College), while the Midwest is relying on Matt Brandt (Lindenwood University) and Nancy believes David Glick will carry the torch for the University of Arizona on Saturday. Until Lee Peters crashed out of the conference championship criterium at the finish line, he was one of the University of Vermont's strongmen, while now his teammate Alex Cox will be UVM's leader in the crit. Meanwhile, the so-called Dark Lord of the ECCC Pavel Gonda (NYU) can't be left out of the mix: "Alex is our Sprint Leader winner and a very smart racer, and has experience with Nationals and similar top races. Pavel does as well, and is super motivated to do well at Nationals during his short stay in America for graduate school." USAC Collegiate Program Manager Jeffrey Hansen attests to the strength of the NYU rider: "When I went to the ECCC season opener at Rutgers, Gonda took the crit handily, and shortly thereafter it wasdiscovered that he had won a P/1/2 crit in Central Park that morning, and ridden his bike down to Piscataway to win that race, too. Incredible."

D1 Women's Criterium: Most conferences have that one rider like the Dark Lord that is something of an unknown but seems to come out of nowhere every race and just dominate: in the Northwest, the fact that Leia Tyrell (Oregon State University) wears her trademark orange and white skinsuit to every race gives away her intentions for disappearing off the front. Jeffrey attests to her strength, saying "When I was up in the NWCCC for the WWU/UW race, she just killed it in both the road race and the crit, with no mercy... solo." SCCCC Co-Director Matthew Reynolds is confident, to say the least, though, in his pick, predicting a double for Midwestern State University in the D1 Criteriums: "Jen Purcell from MSU is by far the fastest girl in collegiate cycling; she has a team behind her 100% and she will win the crit at nationals. She won all but two Men B races she entered as well." Hanns picks another Ryan All-Star alum, Tammy Wildgoose from UC-San Diego, who also represented her team well at Collegiate Track Nationals last year, not to mention her solid showing at 2009 Collegiate Road Nationals. Spencer is expecting CU-Boulder to pull out the win, though, with Natalie Koch's stunning streak of 1st place finishes this season outweighing her mid-pack finishes last year at Nationals. Meahwnile, Nathan is expecting Lees-McRae rider Rachel Warner to outfox her teammate Carla Swart in the criterium, following a stellar season of racing, which wrapped up with wins in both the Conference Championship road race and criterium. At the same time, some are expecting Sinead Miller (Marian) and Katy Applin (Northeastern) to double up in the criterium and road race, but in the end, only one woman can win each race, and though all are deserving, there will be plenty of riders that go home without a medal. Nancy believes Chloe Forsman (University of Arizona) will be able to match her Cross Country victory at Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals last year and Anna McLoon (Harvard) is the natural Eastern Conference favorite for the crit.

Team Time Trial: The traditional TTT dominators of MIT in D2 and UC Davis in D1 are once again favored to perform well in this, the last event of the weekend (and last collegiate event to feature aero equipment!), which will hammer out the team omnium podiums for 2010. Several teams cannot be overlooked in each division, though. In D1, for example, the NCCCC champion team from University of North Dakota brings a strong squad of men to Madison, as do University of Washington, Penn State, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Pittsburgh, who have "been knocking on the door all season and just need a couple things to go right for them to break through." The combined strength, however, of the men's and women's teams from such schools as University of Arizona, Marian, Lees McRae, Fort Lewis, and Navy will be a big determinant in the final omnium standings. Matthew, though, is so brimming with confidence in his conference's D1 stars that he says, "The Midwestern State men should feature well if they can recover from the partying the night before after winning the crit national championship. And of course the Midwestern State women's team will do well! I'd be shocked if they don't at least podium in this event." In D2, meanwhile, MIT needs to look out for their fellow ECCCers with both men's and women's squads from Dartmouth, as well as Whitman College, who has a "rich history at nationals and practices hard for TTTs." This is all not to mention men's teams from Mesa State, Duke University, Furman University, and the women's team from Mars Hill.

Team Omnium:From the ECCC, "MIT, Dartmouth, and Yale all have very strong shots at the D2 omnium. Each features a number of strong men, but an even stronger group of women. On the D1 side, most of our teams are probably too lacking in either men or women to pull off a huge showing; they're noticeably less balanced than the D2 squads. Dartmouth has been ramping it up in the waning weeks of the conference season. They have a great shot if they can all show up." A lot of usual suspects also have good shots again this year: University of Arizona will bring a balanced squad with strong men and women, as will Marian University, Lees McRae, and Lindsey Wilson College, not to mention Navy, which has dominated the ACCC this season, and Whitman College with its "strong women's team with good chances for high places in the men's races as well." Spencer doesn't have the usual level of confidence in this year's Fort Lewis squad, but with mountain bike stars like Rotem Ishay and Sage Wilderman, not to mention track superstars Ian Burnett and Missy Erickson, it'd be premature to rule them out. Of course UC Davis will perform well, as they're one of the winningest teams out on the road, but Matthew's faith in Midwestern State is probably not without good reason: "They are bringing a squad that has placed riders on the Nationals podium with riders like Jen Purcell, Claire Routledge, Alexi Martinex, Josh Carter and Jason Short; they have a good chance at high placings in all disciplines. Even without former national champions Alex Boyd and Natalie Klemko, who are both out with injuries, the Midwestern State team is still the standard for all teams to reach for."

All teams will be reaching for the coveted Road Nationals trophy this year, but despite all these powerhouse teams, only one will take it home. Be sure to tune and see who it will be.

Photo credits: McLoon, Swart & MIT: Casey Gibson / Filiberti: Natalia McKittrich / Switters: Hors Categorie Photography / Tyrell: Wheels in Focus Photography / Forsman: Went Knipe

This Article Published April 30, 2010 For more information contact: