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The Dartmouth
April 15, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Dartmouth cycling team repeats as Division II champs

The Dartmouth cyclists will be Division II omnium champions for another year after winning the national championships this past weekend in California. Big Green cyclists won just one race overall, but solid finishes by all participants in the weekend's three races established a lead that proved to be decisive in the winner-take-all finale to the collegiate road cycling season.

Friday featured criteriums for both men and women that were replete with accidents and exciting sprint finishes on a flat course spanning a former naval station. Medical personnel reported to Velonews that they treated and released at least 25 riders, while sending three to the nearest hospital with more serious injuries.

Road rash and mechanical failure resulting from one of those crashes didn't prevent Amy Wallace '04 from capturing third place in what turned out to be the best individual performance for the Dartmouth racers over the weekend.

"I went into the weekend hoping for a top-five finish in the crit," Wallace said. "The lack of hills on the course scared me a little bit because typically that's the only place where a person or people can get away from the group."

She quickly shed her anxiety and the rest of the field in the final sprint, finishing just off the wheel of first-place finisher Marissa Kellogg of Yale. Kristina Eaton '04 and Christina May '05 followed suit, finishing 14th and 20th, respectively, out of a sizeable starting field.

Junior Todd Yezefski's quest to duplicate his criterium win at the Eastern Championships fell short midway through the final lap when he was pushed off the course by other riders in the peloton, thus ditching his chances of taking the sprint for the win. Regardless, he pulled out a 19th-place finish, closely behind Bing Knight '05 (18th) and Tim Clement '05 (13th). Mike Barton (Thayer) hung tough in the final sprint, placing fifth.

Revenge fueled the Dartmouth women on Saturday in their attempt to avenge two straight years of Yale time trial dominance. The trio of Wallace, Eaton and May ignored lactic acid burn on the 26-mile course to pull in first, 25 seconds ahead of its New Haven foes.

"Amy and Chrissy and I work really well together, and our race tactic on this team time trial was much better than we've had in the past." Eaton said when parsed on the ladies' performance.

The men were equally impressive. Averaging 26 miles per hour on the same course, the A-train of Yezefski, Barton, Clement and Tom Temple '03 finished a strong third behind John's Hopkins and Colorado College.

"Tom was extremely strong, and everyone held their own," Yezefski said of the men's finish. "We started to fall apart in the final kilometer push to the line, but overall, we were very pleased with our performance."

By the end of day two, the persistence of all Dartmouth riders pushed them to the top of the standings in Division II and, similar to their finish in the Eastern Championships, they set the stage for a dramatic cap to the season in the final race on Sunday.

Sunday's road race featured climbs on grades as high as 15 percent, with sustained climbs at 10 percent, a challenging 12,800 overall vertical feet to scale for the men, and 8,000 for the women, factors that whittled the packs down to the elite and most well prepared riders.

On the men's side, Barton rode the momentum from his Eastern Championship road race victory and shook off a shattered chain in the final lap en route to a fourth-place finish, while Yezefski finished in the eighth spot.

For the ladies, Eaton, showcasing her burly, hill-climbing ruggedness, finished ninth, 10 minutes off the victor's pace.

When the sun set on the weekend, Dartmouth rode away with the Division II title. Barton continued his impressive first year riding for the Big Green, placing third overall among his Division II competitors. With only one racer on the overall podium and only a single individual race performance worthy of a medal, the Dartmouth team used its persistence and combined team strength to capture the Division II crown.

That overall power made itself evident in the most important race of the three held during the weekend -- the team time trials -- where the most points are available to augment the team's standing. Both squads finished the team event with podium finishes, highlighting a consistency that followed the Dartmouth riders throughout the season, and a lack of greed on the part of the squad's top cyclists.

"I had two goals," Yezefski reflected, "First and foremost was to do my part for the team overall. Collegiate cycling is really about the team, and I really wanted to help win the overall title."

Looking ahead, the Big Green is looking at green pastures as Temple is the only one of the seven National Championship competitors taking his diploma from President Wright come June.

With cyclists like Steve Weller '05 and John Welsh '04 posting successful 2002 campaigns, and up-and-coming freshmen Brian Hendrickson and Matt Rossman gaining collegiate experience, Temple's parting gap is temporary and the taste of team success may not be as elusive as beautiful riding weather in Hanover in early spring.

The ladies return their triumvirate to the blacktop next year with the knowledge of what it takes to get to the podium. For Eaton, the challenge of exertion that characterizes the endurance sport is a foundation of success.

"It makes one realize how much potential you have going into a race that you don't necessarily pull out because you don't want to be in so much pain," she said.

The Big Green cyclists received great support from the riders' families throughout the year, in particular the Yezefskis and the volunteers who assisted in the l'Enfer du Nord held at Dartmouth on Easter weekend. Many thanks go out to their contribution to the team's success.