By Ben Civiletti
Annondale-on-Hudson, NY – The ECCC descended upon a sleepy Bard College last Sunday for a campus criterium that saved the calendar from the dark emptiness of a missing weekend. Attendance was down compared to established two-day events, but the enthusiasm of the northern teams more than compensated for the numbers. Patchy sunshine was a welcome addition to the later races, and paved the way for some top-notch spectator participation.
The course was fast, with four corners and a sharp little rise to the dead-flat finishing straight. Even the small hill was enough to encourage attackers, and every field was shattered by accelerations. Breakaways ruled the day, as pelotons imploded and the smaller field sizes limited teamwork. The Women’s C and Men’s B races were both won by solo moves, showcasing strategies that often get squashed in larger races.
The Women’s A/B race was one of the more cohesive events, but by the end Hayley Wickstrom (University of Pittsburgh) pulled out a twelve second advantage on the field and crossed the line with the victory. Jasmine Hansen (US Military Academy) came in second, and B rider Lucie Vagnerova outgunned the remaining A’s for third.
In the Men’s A event, the pace was scorching right from the whistle as an early breakaway of four escaped. Riders in the move were Benjamin Grass (Dartmouth), Will Dugan (UVM), Spencer Gilbert (Yale) and Peter Vollers Jr. (KMS). By the midway point in the race, the main field had splintered into chase groups of all sizes, and most were pulled in the second half. The four-man breakaway increased it’s advantage, as Dugan (UVM) repeatedly tried ditching his three companions. They stuck to his wheel every time, and with under 10 laps to go, the group lapped what was left of the field: about 12 riders. In the final lap, Benjamin Grass of Dartmouth powered to the front of the field, beating Will Dugan into second and leaving third place for Spencer Gilbert.
Bard’s first attempt at hosting a race weekend went very smoothly, with safe and organized racing. Rumor has it that they are looking to host a full weekend next year, and it seems the ECCC would be excited to adopt a new northern classic into the schedule.