Philly breakdown from Martha, Adam, and Zach

Thoughts from Martha, Adam, and Zach on what went on in the City of Brotherly Love. An appropriate spot for TTTing off the front of a race, no?

What happens when you TTT off the front of a race

Martha’s race report is the best way to understand what went on:

MIT takes Division II Omnium at Philly weekend, placing 2nd overall behind Penn State. The MIT cycling team traveled to Philadelphia this weekend for the third race in the ECCC road racing season. The weekend opened with the first team time trial (TTT) of the season. The TTT is generally MIT’s strongest event as the teams make it a priority to practice together often, and the practice certainly paid off. The women’s A, men’s B, and men’s C teams won the event.

The next event was the road race, which consisted of 2-5 loops of a 6 mile course around Fairmount Park, complete with windy flat sections, several short hills, and some technical descents. Joseph P Near (G), who had just upgraded from D’s after winning both races at Rutgers, placed second in the field sprint of the men’s C race, despite spending most of the race successfully chasing down a rider off the front. In the women’s A race, Laura R Ralston (G) and Katie J Quinn (G) dominated the race. On the first loop, Quinn broke up the field by motoring up the first climb, and then Ralston attacked the small front group to get a gap on the field. Quinn let others do the work trying to pull in her teammate, before dropping the group on the climb and bridging to Ralson. Ralston and Quinn time trialed together for the rest of the race, easily holding off the rest of the field to place first and second.

The weekend ended with a new crit course on the Temple University’s campus. In the men’s C race, Mattheiu G Talpe ‘11, Near, and Sebastian Gauthier placed 1-2-3 in the first prime, gapped the field, and never looked back. They held off the field for the entire race to take the first three places. Teammates Andrew C Lysaght (G) and Zach W Ulissi (G) were instrumental in blocking to help their teammates stay off the front, and Andrew still managed to take second in the field sprint to finish fifth overall. Much needed points in the higher categories were scored by Sam Hickey, Adam Bry, and Spencer Schaber, who all finished in the top ten of the men’s B race. The weekend ended with utter domination of the women’s A/B race by Quinn, Ralston, and Christina Birch. Quinn, Ralson, and Birch took turns attacking the field, and finally an attack by Quinn stuck. Quinn soloed the rest of the race to take the win, which Ralston snatched second in all of the primes and won the field sprint. Birch took 9th overall, giving her a third place finish in the B field.

Adam Bry’s comments on watching MIT cause the carnage in the men’s C:

I’d just like echo Martha’s congratulations on the team’s great results this weekend and in particular emphasize the outstanding performance of the men’s C squad (Andrew Lysaght, Matt Talpe, Nate Dixon, Joe Near, John Rom, Sebastien Gauthier, Zack Ulissi, and Steven Ji) in the crit today.

When they lined up to start all the MIT riders looked ready for business and sure enough they came around for the first prime in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd position with Talpe, Andrew, and Sebastien slightly off the front. The sprint opened up a few second gap and as they came past the finish line it was clear they were ready to go for the breakaway, keeping the effort pegged through the straightaway.

There are probably few things that can organize a pack better than seeing three riders from the same team off the front early in a race, and over the next few laps a ferocious chase developed with strong riders from all the teams contributing. However, as soon as the teams got organized, Andrew and Zack began inserting themselves in the paceline to block the pursuit. From the sidelines we only got a snapshot every couple minutes, but soft pedaling at the front, taking 2nd wheel and then letting gaps build to the rider pushing it at the front, and sitting up after turns, all made life extremely difficult for anyone hoping to pull back the three MIT riders in perfect TTT form off the front.

The gap built to 15 seconds, closed to 10 with 2 laps to go, but with one lap to go it was back up to 20 and it was clear the race was over. Maybe someone with more ECCC years under their belt can straighten me out on this, but this was the first time I’ve seen any collegiate men’s team at any level pull off a victory like this: creating and seizing the opportunity to form a break with only MIT riders, working a perfect TTT for nearly an entire race, while simultaneously having riders strong and savvy enough to kill the chase effort in the pack. The margin for error was extremely thin all around and the team pulled it off to perfection.

It was truly exhilarating to watch and definitely made the weekend for me. Well done guys, and let’s see what we can do in Bs in the coming weeks!

Zach added some thoughts:

One of the things that makes cycling so  interesting to watch is that not every attack, not every gamble works out, and for all of the wonderful results that led to some amazing results and stunning victories this weekend, I’d like to point out a few of my favorite moments from this weekend that didn’t make the headlines:

* Our very dedicated President, Singsing, tossed his hat in the ring with the men’s A TTT, absolutely breaking himself to be the third and final wheel across the line for the team (for those who don’t know, men’s and women’s A squads have to finish 3 riders instead of 2, and the men’s squad started with just 3).

* Shaena pushed her self right to her limit in the circuit race, finding what any seasoned cyclist has discovered, which is that if you push close to the edge often enough, you’ll eventually push past it and crash. Despite being a bit stirred from her first crash, mustered herself for an excellent crit, even trying to strike out off the front at one point once her teammate Katie was safely away.

* Maria, despite being still quite new to cycling in general, stepped up into Cs for her second weekend of bike racing to try her hand in a faster, longer, and more competitive race, joining Juls, who looks more comfortable in the field with each race.

And, lastly, I would like to thank all of my teammates this weekend, especially for staying around to cheer me on during the last race of the day, when everyone was packing up to go home. Hearing Juls and Shaena as the ran backwards around the course, yelling “Attack!” while we were sprinting down the backside of the course over 30mph put as much of a smile on my face as I was physically capable of at that moment (which, admittedly, wasn’t much, nor did I have anything in reserve to attack… oh well, for next time).““““