Thursday, March 19, 2015

Race Report (& Winter Catch-Up): 2015 ECCC Road Season Weekend 2 (3/14-3/15)

This past weekend, Bucknell Cycling finally emerged to start off the 2015 ECCC road season following a cancelled first weekend - what would have been the Garden State Collegiate Weekend hosted by Stevens Institute of Technology.  Before we jump into the post, we remind you to follow the Bucknell Cycling Team's Facebook page for the most frequent team updates and cycling news.

Leading up to this past weekend, a rough winter of unrelenting snow and cold temperatures unfortunately meant less long rides and more time on the trainers, though that didn't stop the team from going out on an epic Triple Bypass ride, among others.  The team also had two big weekends with Coach Bill Brunner of Highlands Coaching, new to the team this year, to ride and learn about eating, training, and race strategy.  Veterans like Daniel Lazier and Alexander Breakstone got to really dig into their data, while newcomers like Kanishka Suwal and Charlie Hanna benefited from bike fits and advice on prepping for long rides and completing effective trainer sessions.  The team also held its annual winter training competition, in which riders are placed into teams and each rider is encouraged to log the time they spend riding, up until the team's first race.  Mr. Lazier dominated the competition early on and took first in the end with a whopping 5675 minutes logged.  Breakstone worked hard for a close second place at 5166 minutes, and his team - including veteran Brian Case and newcomers Christian Ouellette and Charlie Hanna - won the team competition with 13091 minutes between them.  Among the freshmen, Charlie stood out with a sizable 2559 minutes.

"Sooo, Christian, this descent coming up usually doesn't have winter maintenance." - Caserace

Ward, Steven, and Charlie (from left to right)

For Dan, Alex, Kanishka, Ward Prescott, and Kurt Schlosser, Saturday's Columbia Rockland Lake Circuit Race was the first time to put this winter training to the test.  The 3.7 mile circuit looped around a lake, had no corners, and had a fairly flat profile, with some undulation on the back section.  While the road was messy at points, it was well marked.  A bigger challenge for the day was the cold temperatures and steady rain.  Despite a slight lightening of the rain later in the day for the A field, water and crud from the road continued to kick up, leaving riders cold and visibility low.

A combined field of Men's D1 and D2 was the first to go off, with freshmen Kanishka and Kurt riding for the baby blue.  As was not unexpected, it was a little rough; Kanishka worked hard to fight the conditions but ended up off the back of the pack, and Kurt was involved in a minor fall after being caught behind a crash.  The two rode together for a bit, though Kanishka later pulled himself out of the race due to the wet and cold.  Kurt finished like a champ - coming in as the last timed rider in the race but earning the team's first four points of the season due to a sixth place finish among the D2 riders.

Kanishka and Kurt (left to right) at the start of Saturday's Columbia Rockland Lake Circuit Race.

In the Men's C race, Ward started strong from the start, staying near the front of the pack for the majority of the race.  What could have been a top finish became a solid, fast, mid-pack finish after he was caught behind a crash leading up to the line that split the field.

Hours later but with weather conditions barely improved, Bucknell Cycling's big guns were out for the Men's A race.  Both Dan and Alex were feeling good, and both had definitely put in the training time to bring some results.  The plan was clear: Dan would work to form a winning break while Alex would keep tabs on the pack and work in the finishing sprint.  In the case of a decisive break, both would look to stay up the road.  Thirty minutes into the 1.5 hour race, Dan prodded and a break formed.  The three-man break looked great and spirits were high as the gap was extended to over two and a half minutes with a handful of laps to go.  The team was looking for a repeat of last year's Army Weekend.  Unfortunately, the break consisted of two riders from the University of Delaware (along with Dan).  With few options and in hopes of working with the two others longer, Dan took his fair share of pulls and tried the friendly approach throughout the race.  However, when the time came, the UD riders were relentless - attacking Dan one after the other and eventually breaking him off.  The hard work and cold got to Dan, as over the course of two laps he passed through no-man's land and back through the pack.  At the end of the day, the result for Dan was a P&P.

While Dan was taking off, Alex did exactly what he needed to do at the front of the peloton - covering, watching, and bringing back moves.  When he saw Dan return to the pack, however, he knew the game had changed and it was up to him to bring the team a result.  Strength and confidence throughout the race built up to a strong finish by Stone.  He took fifth in the field sprint for seventh overall and a massive 40 points for Bucknell.

After a great dinner and a good night's sleep at the Breakstones', the team set off for Sunday's Rutgers Campus Criterium.  With Kanishka out due to the onset of cold-like symptoms, Kurt again kicked the day off for Bucknell Cycling in the Men's D field.  The course was a 0.78 mile, three-corner crit that followed a long, downhill, left-hand curve into a flat back straight.  The race then turned left into the wind and onto an uphill straight, in the middle of which was the line.  It was cold, windy, and cloudy the whole day, but that didn't stop Kurt from again picking up points for the baby blue.  Though taken out after losing a lap to the field, Kurt finished seventh among the D2 riders.

The Men's C race saw Ward and Steven Robare at the starting line, the latter of whom didn't race the day before due to an illness that lasted him the entire previous week.  The race started with both Steven and Ward staying within the top five to ten riders - right where they needed to be.  Despite putting in serious time in the off season, however, Steven felt the effects of his previous week and was unable to stick with the pack.  He rode in for a P&P.  Ward, however, only felt stronger as the race went on, winning the second of three sprint laps .  From there he sat in and regained energy for the finish.  Despite a one-man winning solo off the front, Ward came through the last corner in perfect position.  Churning up to the line with a massive painface, Wardo took second in the field sprint for a third-place finish overall and a total of 18 points for Bucknell.  Starting off his second season of road racing, Ward finally got the kind of result that, for various reasons, had previously eluded him.

Ward pulling a painface while hauling in for third in Sunday's Rutgers Campus Criterium.

Finally, Alex and Dan lined up to finish off the weekend in the Men's A race, maintaining the previous day's team strategy.  Alex again showed strength and confidence from the beginning, prodding at the front of the peloton and watching for the group's strongmen to show their cards.  Unfortunately, when their cards were finally thrown down and the decisive break was made, the group of five that went up the road lacked a Bucknell representative.  Despite multiple tries by Dan to both bridge the gap and animate the pack to chase, the gap only extended.  The pack knew the five men were too far gone and slowed down.  On their second-to-last lap, the pack was lapped and all the racers finished together in a sprint.  Alex pulled out a solid third in the field for eighth overall and 31 points, and Lazer came in with the pack for eighteenth and three points.  In addition, Alex nabbed a third and a fourth-place finish in two of the sprint laps, and Dan nabbed a fourth-place in another prime.

Dan working hard in the Men's A field to make something stick in Sunday's Rutgers Campus Criterium.

Alex sitting in the Men's A field before taking third in Sunday's field sprint.
We thank the Breakstone family for their tremendous hospitality this past weekend, as well as all of our sponsors for helping us start off the season right.  Please head to the "Sponsors" page for the most up-to-date information.  Finally, as always, Papa K was arguably this week's MVP, keeping energy and spirits high with G-Mix, Twizzlers, and food fresh off the grill.

This coming weekend, the team heads out to Philadelphia for the Philly Phyler.  Everyone from the Columbia/Rutgers weekend will be returning, with Brian Case, David Schell, and Christian Ouellette making their debut for the season.  Stay tuned!

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