May 13, 2005 – Lawrence, Kan. (May 13, 2005)-Day one of the 2005 Collegiate Road Cycling National Championships saw the best student-athletes in the sport square off in the weekend’s opening event. Hosted by the University of Kansas, the three-day event kicked off with the Outdoor and Bike Criterium in downtown Lawrence, Kansas where four institutions got a jump on their overall pursuit of a national title.
Stephanie Hannos (Cumberland University) began the day with a win in the women’s division II criterium before Amber Rais (Stanford University) captured the women’s division I crown.
Later, Todd Yezefski (University of Chicago) rode to a win in the men’s division II race and Ken Hanson (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo) closed out Friday’s competition with a win in the men’s division I race.
Greeted by rain showers in the morning, the 17-team, 33-rider division II women’s field cautiously took to the one-mile L-shaped course in the heart of Lawrence for a 60-minute timed event. Throughout the course of the race, a natural selection left a final group of four riders in contention for the win as Hannos outsprinted Laura Valaas (Whitman College), and Clara Beard (Lees-McRae) to the line despite the presence of a second Whitman College rider in the final four. Although Whitman had the numerical advantage, Hannos’ finishing kicked proved to be too strong.
As the rains continued, the women’s division I field took to the streets as 78 riders from 42 schools also contested a 60-minute timed event. Together, the wet weather and flat terrain of the course kept the peloton intact as few significant breaks materialized. Destined for a mass field sprint, the otherwise timid pace intensified in the final few laps as Rais fought for position in the closing miles. In the ensuing sprint, Rais bested runner-up Rebecca Larson (University of Florida) and third place finisher Sarah Uhl (Penn State University).
Afterwards, Rais credited the recent wet California weather with preparing her for today’s conditions. “We’ve actually had a lot of rain this year, so we’ve been doing a lot of training in the rain and a few of our collegiate races have been in good downpours.”
Next, the men took the stage as 69 riders from 42 division II collegiate cycling programs competed in a 70-minute criterium. Like the women’s division I race, it ended in a field sprint but not because of a lack of attacks. Several riders attempted to escape the main group, but each effort was eventually foiled as the collective pace of the peloton prevented any successful breaks. On the bell lap, two separate pileups claimed the hopes of several riders but, Yezefski emerged unscathed and took the sprint ahead of Colorado College teammates Joshua Gewirtz and Cody Powell in a photo finish.
Tactically, Yezefski recognized the talent around him and used it to his advantage on the final lap. “I was just trying to stay at the front and I knew Josh and Cody were great riders so I just sat on Cody’s wheel, I knew that Josh would take him right to the finish so I just cued off them,” Yezefski explained.
With the undercards in the books, a field of 124 men lined up for the men’s division I race to close out the afternoon. The rain subsided and the course dried, a speedy and aggressive event followed in front of a hefty crowd that lined the main thoroughfare of Lawrence. The pace was too high in the 70-minute race for any attacks to succeed as another field sprint unfolded. At the line, Hanson edged Bobby Lea (Penn State University) by half a bike length to claim the win.
“Our first objective was to stay out of trouble and stay at the front,” explained Hanson afterwards. “I think we did a lot more work than we should of, but it paid off in the end. Coming down to the final straightaway on the backside, I told (teammate) Dirk (Copeland) ‘I’m on, let’s do it’ and he just put his head down and took me through the corners and I was lucky enough to finish it off well.
Dramatically, hometown favorite Brian Jensen (University of Kansas) launched a penultimate-lap attack that nearly stuck but was eventually swallowed up by the bunch behind. “We were all worried about that move,” commented Hanson. “It gets chaotic in the last couple of laps. We just tried to say focused and wait for the right moment to do our thing and that’s what we did.”
The 2005 Collegiate Road Cycling National Championships continue on Saturday with road races in the neighboring town of Perry, Kan. On tap is 56 miles for both division I and II women and 84 miles for division I and II men.
2005 Collegiate Road Cycling National Championships
Division I Men
1. Ken Hanson (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo)
2. Bobby Lea (Penn State University)
3. Troy Heithecker (University of Washington)
Division II Men
1. Todd Yezefski (University of Chicago)
2. Joshua Gewirtz (Colorado College)
3. Cody Powell (Colorado College)
Division I Women
1. Amber Rais (Stanford University)
2. Rebecca Larson (University of Florida)
3. Sarah Uhl (Penn State University)
Division II Women
1. Stephanie Hannos (Cumberland University)
2. Laura Valaas (Whitman College)
3. Clara Beard (Lees-McRae)
For a complete results, visit www.usacycling.org.