NU Cycling Team: Philly Phlyer Recap

Philadelphia, PA/ March 15-16th 2014/ Recap by Phil Learmonth Northeastern Cycling team

NU Cycling was back in the saddle for the Philly Phlyer this past weekend. The team made it to New Jersey at midnight Friday and was up at 5:30 a.m. Saturday, loading up on cereal and muffins provided by the Thompson’s at home base. This fuel would power the 14 mile Team Time Trial along Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River.

Again, Men’s D was up first for the TTT, this time a two man team consisting of Joseph Slamm and Phil Learmonth. The two had a difficult time battling the wind coming off of the river, putting them in the seventh place spot. Camille Gardner and Michelle O’Donnell teamed up to take on, and beat the Women’s Intro field, placing first ahead of Lehigh and Yale University. Dom Caiazzo, Ford Murphy, Kenny McNeill, and Scott Kapelewski were well prepared for Men’s A, but missed a few crucial turns, pushing them back to fourth place out of seven. Brian Alba, Max Nagel, Nick Fanning and Nick Esposito destroyed the 15-team Men’s B field, taking first when Alba and Nagel sprinted across the line, only four seconds ahead of second place UVM. NU’s fifth and final TTT team was made up of Lisa Thompson, Rachel Diaz-Granados and Courtney Dobrott, who placed third in the Women’s B field.

Slamm and Learmonth had some time to warm up before kicking off the day’s road race. Learmonth was off to a good start, sticking with the lead group for much of the twenty miles, but came up short on the final lap, placing 15th. Slamm, still fighting a vicious cold, fell off the back early, but worked alongside a Princeton University rider to place 36th out of the 52-man field. Gardner and O’Donnell took advantage of the great coaching offered by the ECCC for their Women’s Intro race. O’Donnell finished the seven mile lap in fourth as Gardner pulled in just behind her in fifth.

This week the team had Men’s C riders thanks to Alba’s upgrade and Fanning, who was more than ready for his first racing experience. Alba proved that he still has what it takes, attacking early as Fanning orchestrated a chase behind the peloton. Alba held his break as he blasted through the Smith Memorial Arch, taking first with a minute lead. Fanning came across the line in 19th with his chase group as Thompson staged with Women’s B.

The commander in chief started the 32-mile race strong, but lost her rhythm about half way through. Thompson had to be pulled by an official, but still grabbed 12 points for Northeastern. The team’s final two ladies, Diaz-Granados and Dobrott, were off of the line next with the Women’s C category. Dobrott, an experienced triathlete, was taking on her first road race with confidence as Diaz-Granados continued to show her potential to be one of NU’s top female riders. Dobrott rode together with the group just behind the leaders, finishing 15th as Diaz-Granados did work with the lead group, grabbing fourth place.

Nagel, Kapelewski, and Esposito staged for the Men’s B race as the sun started to shine on the Avenue of the Republic. This field stayed together for the majority of the 32-mile race. Esposito just barely lost the group as he was washed out by the strong afternoon gusts forming over the river. Nagel and Kapelewski were players in the 45-man peloton, which kept any rider with hopes of attacking at bay. Kapelewski placed himself well in the pack, finishing 19th with Nagel only seconds behind in 41st. Esposito’s determination fueled his solo ride, allowing him to power his Race Machine across the white-tape finish line.

Caiazzo, Murphy, and McNeill warmed up for Men’s A, the final collegiate race of the day. The 46-mile race through Fairmount Park meant these men would have to generate maximum wattage. Murphy was in attack mode, making multiple attempts to form a bridge to the two leaders, who broke away early, but wouldn’t stick. Caiazzo and McNeill consistently held together the vigilant peloton throughout the seven laps. McNeill held himself in the front and finished 12th with Murphy and Caiazzo finishing together a few minutes later in 31st and 32nd, respectively.

The team packed up and headed back to their home base in New Jersey for lasagna, and arts and crafts, where they were able to get an excellent night’s sleep for Sunday’s race.

Temple University hosted the first real criterium of the road season, a one mile lap with four 90 degree corners with a slightly inclined finish coming off of the last turn. Men’s D began with the only crash of the day, a six-man pile up during the first few yards of the neutral start. Slamm and Learmonth managed to stay clear, and set themselves up for a restart. These two started in the back of the pack, moving up as each lapped was completed. Learmonth made his way to first wheel on the last lap, but realized this was a mistake as he crossed the line in 12th. Slamm lasted as long as he could, having to be pulled along with 25 other riders from the field.

Alba and Fanning were ready to hit the corners next with Men’s C. Alba attacked on the second straight with five laps to go. Alone, he was able to go brakeless through the corners, winning the third sprint and the event, with a 30 second lead. Fanning was doing well with his first crit, moving in with a group just behind the lead pack, finishing with a sprint in 30th. Thompson set off with the Women’s B field next, but the combined A field carried the peloton to speeds that were almost impossible to keep up with. She was pulled and placed after several challenging laps.

Women’s C staged and started next, meaning Diaz-Granados and Dobrott were tearing up the course. Dobrott, competing in her first criterium, worked with the peloton throughout the beginning of the race, later working with a UConn rider to cross the line in the 20 spot. Diaz-Granados was at her strongest, pulling the lead pack for the majority of the race. She took first in all three intermediate sprints and placed second overall after sprinting to the line with chain-snapping force, grabbing a total of 32 points for NU Cycling.

Nagel, Kapelewski, and Esposito dismounted their trainers and began their crit. Esposito couldn’t make the cut Sunday and was pulled by an official as the pace car closed in. Nagel pushed his way to the front and attempted to bridge the gap between himself and the break as Kapelewski played it safe with the peloton. After burning most of his energy on the attempted bridge, Nagel finished in 24th on Kapelewski’s wheel, who finished 22nd. The temperatures dropped as the Men’s A riders made their way to the start line.

McNeill, Caiazzo, and Murphy knew they needed to make some moves. The three commanded the cohesive group as Caiazzo placed second in the first intermediate sprint, and Murphy placed fourth in the second, which allowed him to set off with a break of about ten riders. Competitors were falling off of the break one by one, but Murphy held on with Middlebury’s Kai Wiggins. These two teamed up to create a one minute and 15 second gap ahead of the group, allowing Murphy to take second in the four remaining preme sprints. For the rest of the race McNeill and Caiazzo were on defense in the main pack as Murphy crossed the line in second, just behind Wiggins. McNeill and Caiazzo placed 16th and 15th respectively as the whole peloton was pulled a lap early due to the immense gap their teammate had created.

NU Cycling placed fourth for the weekend and is now fourth overall. The team had a flawless drive home, making only one stop for gas, burritos and pizza. Team members are back in training mode as they prepare for the Bard Crit and Uncle Sam RR coming upMarch 22 through the 23 in New York.

NU Cycling would like to thank the Thompson’s and the ECCC for making the second road weekend possible.

For detailed results, check out Velocity Results.

For more info on the event, check out the Philly Phlyer Flyer.

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