Case Cycling traveled to Columbia, KY for the Midwest Collegiate Cycling Conference 2015 road season opener. A full race weekend consisting of a Team Time Trial and Criterium on Saturday, and a Road Race on Sunday, Case Cycling sent a record 13 riders along with Coach Ryan Pierce to contest the weekend.
Starting things off with the Team Time Trial in the morning, the original course was shortened from 16 kilometers to 8. A fairly flat course, with one very short but punchy hill 2 km in, .5km long and averaging a 10% grade and topping out at 20%, and a screaming descent into the finish with riders hitting over 49 miles per hour in the finishing sprint. First off the line was the Men’s D team, with Dan Muskin-Pierret (junior), Conrad McGarry (junior) and Nick Merchant-Wells (sophomore). Clocking in at 14:27, they were good for 2nd place. Next up was the Men’s C team of Henry Bermet (junior), Jasper Stallings (freshman) and David Scannapieco (freshman). They crossed the line in 14:53, good for 3rd place. Rolling out next was the Men’s B team of Evan Guarr (junior), Matt Swartwout (junior), Sam Gaylin (junior) and Adam Johnston (sophomore). Flying across the line in 13:03 they set the team’s best time of the day and claimed 3rd. Last up was the Women’s A team of Daniela Mehech (medical student), Mallory Miller (graduate student), and Jessica Lalonde (freshman). They took 5th place with a time of 18:00.
After a strong start with the TTT in the morning, the team was looking forward to the Criterium in the afternoon. Taking place in downtown Greensburg, KY, the course featured a .9km lap, with the front straight being a gentle rise averaging 3% over .5km, with two quick 90 degree left hand turns at the top and then descending the back half with a wide sweeping left into a sharp punch upwards and back onto the front straight. Lining up first was the Men’s D field, racing for 30 minutes with 51 riders including Stallings, McGarry, Scannapieco, and Merchant-Wells. All except Stallings were racing their first mass-start cycling event ever. As is usual in the Men’s D, the fast men took to the front and it was a free-for all. Stallings found himself consistently following the right wheels throughout the race, and was good for 8th place in the final sprint. McGarry took 23rd, Muskin-Pierret 39th, with Scannapieco and Merchant-Wells taking 41st and 42nd, respectively. Johnston, Gaylin, and Bermet toed the line in the Men’s C field. Unfortunately a malfunctioning finish line camera failed to record the finish order. Next were the Men’s B, with Swartwout and Guarr. The race was primarily characterized by attacks from Marian University and Lindenwood University, setting a blistering pace. Swartwout finished 23rd, and Guarr 27th. In the combined Women’s B/C field Miller and Lalonde both rode in their first mass-start event. Miller had the team’s best individual result of the day, sprinting to 6th place. Finally, the Women’s A field. Similar to the Men’s B, the race was controlled by Marian. An early break of 3 Marian riders went, and stayed away until finish. One rider from Lees-McRae College tried to bridge the gap, but couldn’t quite manage. Mehech sat in the pack and finished 10th.
Sunday was the classic Lindsey Wilson road race course, a 25 mile lap with 4 major climbs, featuring the especially steep Little Cake Hill, which had all riders bottoming out their gears and cursing their legs. The Men’s D did just one lap, with Stallings hopeful for another good result after Saturday. He delivered, taking 5th in the sprint. McGarry came in 30th, Merchant-Wells 40th, with Muskin-Pierret and Scannapieco 44th and 45th, respectively. The Men’s C race, for the first time ever, was 2 laps, same as the Men’s B and Women’s A. Unfortunately, there was a bad crash in the Women’s A field just 2 miles into the race, which required closing the course and stopping all other races as a rider was airlifted to the University of Louisville Hospital with critical injuries. The decision was made to restart the races after a long delay, with all races starting with one lap to go. Bermet and Johnston made it up Little Cake just fine on the first lap, but the Men’s C race was blown apart on the second ascent. They found themselves chasing in small groups, eventually finishing with Johnston 15th and Bermet 20th. Gaylin placed 30th, and a massive 15 riders did not finish the race. In the Men’s B Guarr and Swartwout came unhooked on the first ride up Little Cake, and found themselves attempting to pace back to the field together. The field was moving too quickly however, and they started the 2nd lap 4 minutes down and didn’t make up the time. They took 22nd and 23rd. In the Women’s B/C Miller found herself off the front with three riders from Marian University. Unfortunately it was not to be, and the pack reeled in the break. Miller took 5th in the finale, with Lalonde breaking into the top-15 at 14th. Lastly, Mehech had flatted in the Women’s A crash and was started with 2 other riders over a minute down from the pack. Once again the chase to the pack was futile, but it was a good enough effort for her to take 9th on the day.
The weekend was a strong start to the season for Case Cycling. After taking 2nd place in Division II last year, they come in hunting to maintain their placing this year and close down the gap to year-after-year DII champion Notre Dame. In the conference team standings, Case Cycling is currently 5th overall, and 2nd in Division II, trailing Notre Dame by 52 points and leading DePaul University by 104 points. In the individual standings, Mehech is currently 6th overall and 1st in Division II. This coming weekend they are racing a road race and individual time trial at Michigan State on Saturday 3/28, followed by a criterium at University of Michigan on 3/29.