This weekend Case Cycling took off for a long drive down to St. Charles, MO for the Lindenwood University race weekend. A dual conference event, the weekend saw many new riders from the North Central Collegiate Cycling Conference who would prove to be strong competition. After a 9 hour drive and a quick visit to St Louis and the amazing City Museum, the team woke up bright and early to kick off the weekend with the Men’s B Team Time Trial with junior Matthew Swartwout, sophomores Henry Bermet and Adam Johnston as well as freshman Jasper Stallings. The four of them worked hard thoughout, but the B field proved to be too much for the three C racers and one B. The team came in with a 5th place finish in the 13 mile TTT, the longest of the season.
The Lindenwood road race course is notorious in the MWCCC with each 22 mile lap consisting of 1,315 feet of climbing, which is far more than any other course. The Men’s C field was up for two laps of the course while the Women’s A and Men’s B field each had three laps of racing to do. The C’s went off the line and hit the first hill, which comes only 3 miles in, fast enough to shell those who weren’t up for the tough climbing right away. Going into the second large climb, a small group of riders accelerated away from the group and formed a fast break, which included Bermet. As they made ground steadily on the now exploded pack for the remainder of the first lap, Johnston and Stallings joined a large chase group and formed a pace line to try and push forward towards the front of the race. The frantic pace of the chase proved too much for both Stallings and Johnston who both fell off going into the second lap. Johnston continued to push ahead strongly, riding solo and catching many who exhausted themselves chasing the break off the front. At this point, while still far ahead of most, Bermet fell off the lead group and drifted back into position with Stallings who had advanced up over the course of the second lap. Bermet and Stallings rode together until a few miles before the finish while Johnston forged on ahead to catch a good number of riders. The initial break stuck in the end, securing most of the top ten places. Johnston came through with 15th place, Stallings came in 19th and Bermet came in 28th.
Unfortunately, Matthew Swartwout, the team’s only B rider this weekend was forced to drop out of the race due to a knee injury. We looking forward to him getting back onto the bike to perform next week at Notre Dame.
In the Women’s A field, medical student Daniela Mehech represented Case alone and rode a great race. As a natural climber, Lindenwood’s many hills allowed her to push the pace of the pack, dropping all who could not keep up. Totaling 66.5 miles and 4,349 feet of climbing, the Women’s A race was a true test of endurance and saw many of the riders dropping out due to its difficulty. Mehech stuck near the front the entire race along with a shrinking pack and in the end it would come down to a sprint between those who were left. With only a couple of miles to go another rider made a break for the finish and come through in first but was relegated to fourth due to an illegal center line crossing to make the winning move. Mehech finished in an extremely reduced bunch sprint, finishing the day in 3rd.
From daybreak on Sunday the skies were grey and rain appeared imminent. That rain started to fall as the men’s C field sat on the line waiting to start the Lindenwood Criterium. Held in downtown St. Charles, Missouri, the .6 mile course featured one treacherous downhill 90 degree turn as well as a nearly 180 degree turn that transitioned onto cobblestones for the final straightaway. The C’s had a rough time riding through the rain with many crashes throughout the race though fortunately nobody was seriously injured. Johnston crashed on lap 2 when another rider slid out in front of him. Unfortunately, as the roads continued to get wetter and wetter he found himself unable to move forward to the front of the bunch. Stallings was caught behind the same crash as Johnston, and while sprinting to catch the pack he slid out on the sharp turn while transitioning onto the cobblestones. After taking a lap to get his bike in order in the wheel pit Stalling rejoined the race, hanging on near the rear of the pack. Bermet raced an excellent racing, staying within the top few riders of the pack, avoiding crashes, and maintaining position through the rough conditions. In the end Johnston kept up a consistent pace while others fell back and this combined with a strong sprint earned him a 12th place finish. Bermet while solidly in the fray lost a few positions in the last few laps to secure 16th place. Stallings lost the pack in the last two laps but still crossed the line at 19th.
The much smaller Women’s A field played a much safer yet no less intense race then the men before them. Mehech had to contend with the powerful Marian team who controlled the women’s race due to their strength and numbers. Despite her disadvantage in numbers Mehech was in the mix up near the front of her race all the way until Marian sent two riders off the front in a break while leaving the rest to keep the pack at bay. Unable to find anyone to push with her to the break among the other riders, Mehech was forced to play out the rest of the race within the pack, vying for position within that group. In the last turn of the race as the leaders of the pack were sprinting out of the turn Mehech was caught behind a crash and forced to pull on the brakes just when the speed mattered most and Marian took most of the top spots in the race. Mehech however still came out with an impressive 7th place finish.
The weekend finished with a few scrapes, some high placements in a difficult dual conference field and overall very high morale looking forward to regionals next weekend in Notre Dame. Look forward to the team out in force next weekend to push hard in the last leg of the season. Case Cycling will be racing a Team Time Trial and Road Race on April 25 and a Criterium to finish the season on April 26. You can follow the team on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CaseCycling, Twitter: @CaseCycling, or at their website, www.casecycling.com. You can also contact coach and staff advisor Ryan Pierce at firstname.lastname@example.org, or team president Matthew Swartwout at email@example.com.