The UA Cycling Team capped off a successful 2022-23 school year with a fine showing at the road national championships in Albuquerque, NM, last weekend.
Friday Time Trials
The race weekend started with the team and individual time trials on the city’s west side. The women’s squad (Mary Gordon, Cass Frost, and Caroline Hunsberger) rode hard for 7th place against other teams with a full 4 riders. The wind continued to pick up during the morning with gusty conditions for the men’s team (Bill Fries, Aidan Rhodes, Danny Musquiz, and Nikos Casto). The men set an early second fastest time and held on for fourth and just 4 seconds off of 3rd.
Red flag conditions developed for the individual time trial with winds hitting 20+ mph. Riders hit speeds of over 40 mph on some sections of the course. Matan Sopher finished 9th, Tommy Oldham 14th, Bill Fries 15th, Luke Mas 18th, Ryo Akimoto 21st, and Finnley Hartz 22nd.
Saturday featured a 30-mile loop that racers completed twice. Each lap had a trip up Heartbreak Hill, which tops out at 14% for 1 KM, and the long slog on Frost Rd featuring more gusty crosswinds. The women’s team (Mary and Cass) hung tough through the challenging conditions to finish 20th and 23rd. On lap one, the men’s side (Nikos, Aidan, Matan, Bill, Ryo, and Adam Katheder) kept moves in check and set Aidan and Nikos up for the winning selection the final time over Heartbreak. An unfortunate crash caused by a rider clipping a stopped moto took Nikos (and his bike) out of the race- although thankful he only had some minor road rash. The last several kilometers saw several riders jump clear of the field that struggled to get organized. Aidan finished 17th, Matan 31st, Adam 38th, Ryo 42nd, and Bill 48th.
The weekend ended with a flat, L-shaped course at the Balloon Fiesta Park. The women’s race saw a few attempts at a breakaway, but the field was more interested in a sprint. Cass finished 18th and Mary 23rd. The men’s race was strung out from the gun with numerous breakaways from the CSU team. By the halfway mark, the officials had pulled over half the field, with the speed, heat, and wind taking a toll. Nikos set himself up well at the end of the CSU lead out on the final lap for a thrilling second-place finish- on a borrowed neutral support bike! Joe Pifel finished 37th, Finnley 38th, Aidan Rhodes 51st, and Adam Bryfogle 53rd.
At the end of the weekend, the team finished fifth for the road omnium (consisting of points scored across the TTTs, road races, and criteriums). Throughout the year, the team was locked in a close points battle with CSU for the top spot in the rankings across all 5 national championships. CSU’s dominant performance cemented them as the top team in the nation, with the University of Vermont 2nd and the UA in 3rd. Over the last few years, our team has shown itself to be a perennial contender for the top spot- and we’re already planning on how to get there in 2023-24!