NU Cycling Team: Stevens Duck Country Weekend Recap

bikeMountainside, NJ/ March 8-9, 2014/ Recap by Phil Learmonth            

             The first weekend of the road season has been crushed! Saturday morning started with an Esposito breakfast buffet stocked with every carb under the sun. The vans sat still in the brisk morning air as they were packed for the day’s races. One of the vans sat even longer as half the team scoured the house for the lost keys. Luckily the whole team made it to the Watchung Reservation with enough time to prepare for the early morning Team Time Trial.

Joe Slamm, Mikhail Kabakov, and Phil Learmonth made up the Men’s D1 time trial team. They started strong and stayed strong due to Slamm giving it his all, sacrificing himself for his two comrades, who went on to place third. Dominic Caiazzo, Ford Murphy, Kenneth McNeill, and Scott Kapelewski represented NU for the Men’s A TTT. They were off the line quick, but lost Kapelewski at the first corner, due to misdirection from the marshal. The remaining three hammered it to the line, finishing fourth, only 90 seconds behind the Penn State leaders. In depth analysis has shown a lack of duct tape was to blame for the lack of victory. Up next was Brian Alba, Nicholas Esposito, and Maxwell Nagel for Men’s B. Right off the bat, Esposito led the team with all he had until he had no more and dropped. Alba and Nagel went on to place second, only a mere 13 seconds behind first place UNH. Lisa Thompson, Camille Gardner, Michelle O’Donnell, and Rachel Diaz-Granados made up the much needed Women’s B team. They dashed down the descents and conquered the climbs, placing fifth and earning 30 points for NU Cycling.

Before they could even catch their breath, Men’s D1 was back at it again with the much anticipated road race on the technical 6.2 mile loop, both treacherous and fun for any level rider. These guys held a fast pace as Alba attacked on the second of three laps, creating an ever growing gap. Learmonth was with the first chase group as Slamm and Kabakov rode hard with the main pack. The chase could not catch the sandbagger, who finished two minutes ahead of second. Learmonth was just able to hold on to the chase, and crossed the line in eighth. Kabakov and Slamm smashed pedals and finished a few short minutes later in 20th and 28th respectively. Men’s D1 brought in a total of 23 points for NU Cycling.

Women’s C for Diaz-Granados and Women’s Intro for O’Donnell and Gardner commenced. Diaz-Granados kept the pace with best as O’Donnell and Gardner absorbed the lessons of the day from the coach out on their training lap. Diaz-Granados was in the zone as she rode solo behind the break coming around for her second and third laps. She was able to hold her pace without assistance and finished 12th bringing in a point for NU. After speeding off at the start of the intro race lap, O’Donnell crossed the line in seventh bringing in four points, with Gardner close behind in 13th.

Thompson was on deck with Women’s B, sporting her bright blue helmet. El presidente supported the back of the pack for a few laps, feeling the pain, but determined to finish. A blue streak crossed the line as Thompson took 12th and five points for the team, pumping everyone up for the last races of the day.

Men’s B accelerated hard off of the start, consisting of Esposito, Nagel, and Kapelewski. The field was split as they came around for the first few laps. Kapelewski supported the second group while Nagel pulled the peloton and Esposito supported his competitors towards the back. Kapelewski went balls to the wall on the final stretch, gaining a 20 second lead on his group to finish fifth behind the lead group. Nagel continued strong, pulling his pack as he crossed the line in 21st. Getting pulled and placed was not option for Esposito, who stayed focussed on the finish, whipping on the last lap to take 38th.

NU Cycling’s Men’s A riders were hitting the course hard, setting a quick pace immediately. Yale’s Erik Levinsohn attacked early, gaining a solo lead. A small group made chase as Caiazzo, McNeill, and Murphy controlled the main field. On his fourth time around Murphy’s tire succomed to one of many pot holes just before the line. He made a quick stop, receiving a wheel from a generous UVM rider, and cross mounted his Allez back into the race. McNeill and Caiazzo continued on together finishing 17th and 18th respectively. Murphy rose like a phoenix from the ashes, pulling in seconds after the pack, placing him in the 23rd spot.

An excellent first day of racing ended with a pasta dinner around the Espostio’s table. After some cake celebrating Nicholas Esposito’s 21st birthday, the team washed their bodies and their bikes. Sleep ensued as the house fell into darkness.

The sun and the team rose, ready to illuminate circuit Sunday. They made haste to the reservation, ready to take on the chicane of the one and a half mile loop. Men’s D1 started the day’s events, bending cranks with pure power as they completed the neutral lap. It was only the second lap when Alba attacked on the climb, leaving the field to inhale his burnt rubber. Chases ensued, but failed as they crashed out on the muddy chicane. Kabakov and Slamm created their own pack as Learmonth was slowly losing wattage trying to catch the bag of sand. Alba, with the strength of a future A racer finished with a minute and a half lead. Kabakov fought his way from the back, making it across the line in 14th. Slamm was gassed from his sacrificial TTT the day before and was pulled by the official. Learmonth was left climbing out of a snow bank and resetting his chain after dodging a fallen rider in the chicane, managing to be the last rider on the course and finishing 20th.

Gardner and O’Donnell took mental notes as their coach advised their Women’s Intro circuit race. Once let loose, O’Donnell finished sixth with Gardner tailing, taking the ten spot. Diaz-Granados lined up with Women’s C next. She had a great start and rode even stronger than the day before, pulling herself right behind the main break and finishing at full speed taking tenth and three points for NU.

Esposito was recovering from a long night while Men’s B started, unfortunately without Kapelewski and Nagel. Luckily the two were able to sneak in at the end of the neutral lap and to stick with the splintering field. Nagel led the third group across the line taking 31st with Kapelewski finishing a few seconds later in 34th. Thompson’s departure with Women’s B followed. She held in with the pack for a few laps and later worked the back end with Elizabeth Pettitt from UNH. As they rounded the last corner, Thompson was able to explode to the finish taking tenth and nine points for NU.

The clouds cleared and spectators  gathered as Men’s A hit top speed around the circuit. MIT’s Zachary Ulysses attacked as four riders formed a chase. Caiazzo, McNeill, and Murphy worked together as the foundation of the main field. McNeill placed fourth and then third on the first two intermediate sprints, another three points for the team. The three NU riders attempted multiple unsuccessful breaks, but successfully intimidated their competitor’s. On the final lap McNeill went top gear through the chicane with Murphy sitting in his wheel as they barreled towards the finish. McNeill yelled out in pain as he loaded the cannon and fired Murphy into a glorious sixth place sprint. McNeill followed in tenth with Caiazzo right behind taking the 15th spot. Northeastern pulled in a total of 121 points and tied in fifth with UNH for the overall standings.

The events concluded and the vans were packed. The trip home was going perfect until about an hour in, when the van pulling the trailer refused to go over 20 mph. The functioning van searched the hills near Fort Tryon Park just north of Manhattan for the stranded teammates. Once found, the working van was filled to capacity and hooked to the trailer for departure. After a few very stressful passes under some low bridges, the team was able to rest on the rewarding feeling of finishing the weekend. The broken van was driven home with spotty headlights and no interior lights, sounding like a broken air compressor. Everyone made it home safe and ready to get back into the grind.

NU Cycling would like to thank the Esposito family and the ECCC for making the premiere road weekend possible.

For detailed results, check out Velocity Results.

For more info on the event, check out the Stevens Duck Country Weekend Flyer.

For more info on the NU Cycling team please visit or email club president Lisa Thompson at


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