Riders went into a time trial and emerged out of a dust bowl Sunday at the Cotton Classic Time Trial
Clipped In AZ
By Clipped In AZ
The first big weekend of racing for collegiate cyclists in Arizona starts Saturday with the Bicycle Haus Crit and Race Against Time TT.
Big dogs Arizona State University and University of Arizona, who both topped the USA Cycling charts for membership growth this year, will be competing against each other in addition to Northern Arizona University and Grand Canyon University.
ASU is looking to avenge its overall team loss to UA last year, and according to both team presidents, it depends on the sheer number of riders who can bring home the points.
Both teams lost men’s Cat A riders, including ASU’s top talent Spencer Crites, but gained women’s Cat A powerhouses in ASU’s Lindsey Ryder and UA’s Kim Truitt. Both teams have been training in the off season, working on skills and hosting more organized training rides.
“We might have a large men’s A team, but I really think the women’s team is going to be the talking point of the season,” said Joey Iuliano, UA Cycling president. “[Truitt will] bring a wealth of race experience, which will be a huge benefit for the other women. Also, Allison Alterman and Shelby Hoglund have really stepped up their training for this season.”
Strong competition from anyone will be an adjustment for ASU’s women’s team, but Dave Roppel, ASU Cycling president, said the Sun Devils welcome the challenge.
“Our entire women’s team is exceptionally strong, and Lindsey is a power-house addition to the team,” Roppel said.
On the men’s side, new Cat A rider Thomas Keating, a mountain and cyclocross rider, will join Adam Rogers and “rising star” Constantin Schreiber for ASU, according to Roppel. He predicts Cat C will be a “run-away ASU event” with Cheman Cuan, Scott Ridout and triathlete Paul Stevenson in the mix.
Iuliano breaks UA’s men’s team down by race type, and said David Carlson, Nathan Franklin and himself excel in road races, particularly those with climbing. Max Rich and Andrew Keller are UA’s “heavy hitters” when it comes to crits, Iiuliano said. A team goal is to make the top five at nationals.
Iuliano said he is confident in his riders out of the gate this weekend, and plans to bring about 20 to each race.
“We’re going to try to be pretty aggressive,” Iuliano said. “We should have numbers on our side in each field so we’ll have plenty of matches to burn.”
ASU will focus on working together and getting a read on the other teams, Roppel said.
“The objective is to start gelling as a team and testing out what the competition is capable of doing,” Roppel said. “We have several riders looking to upgrade from the weekend which will alter the future races. If we want to win the team points omnium, though, we need to pick up all the points possible, and this includes the prime points.”
Both teams have had a small glimpse at their competitors in the first two crits so far this season, particularly at Avondale, where many tested out their legs and landed on the podium.
At that race, ASU’s Lindsey Ryder took first in the women’s Cat 4 race, Stefanie Sichler took first in women’s masters 30+, Scott Ridout took first in the second men’s Cat 5, Cheman Cuan finished third in the first men’s Cat 5 field, and Sarah Muench took third in both the women’s Cat 4 race and the women’s masters 30+.
For UA, Allison Alterman took second in women’s Cat 4 and Jonathan Wickner took third in the second men’s Cat 5 race.
And although the UA-ASU rivalry is present in sports across the board, camaraderie among Arizona’s collegiate cyclists is high.
“We are all cyclists at the end of the day looking to get better,” Roppel said. “Sure, everybody wants to win, and this creates competition, but it isn’t like football. We aren’t trying to kill each other. We talk socially at events and outside of events.”
“We’ve had a few conference retreats to get to know each other, and the conference Facebook page has been great in getting people involved,” he said. “I’d say all of the teams are friends on and off the bike.”
Watch the collegiate teams take to the course Saturday beginning at 2:40 p.m. at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports park for the Bicycle Haus Crit.
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