Race News and Results
PRINCETON TIGERS TAKE SILVER, NO CHANCES IN NATIONAL TEAM TIME TRIAL CHAMPIONSHIP
LAWRENCE, KANSAS - For the third year running, collegiate cyclists across the country have descended upon the picturesque prairie college town of Lawrence in pursuit of one of the coveted "stars n'stripes" jerseys up for grabs at the annual National Collegiate Cycling Championships. As in previous years, the weekend's festivities include a Team Time Trial (TTT), Road Race, and Criterium, hosted in that order this year from Friday, May 11 through Sunday May 13.
Fresh of a season of success in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (ECCC), wherein Sophomore phenom Nick "the quick" Frey and 2nd year graduate student Nick "the thick" Bennette nabbed Overall and Sprint omnium titles, respectively, the Princeton Tigers cycling team - including Senior Rachel Clattenburg, and grad students Autstin Roach and Alistair Sponsel - arrived in Kansas Wednesday evening with one mission: continue their East Coast domination on the national stage. In particular, the Tigers' Men's Time Trial Team - consisting of all four aforementioned cycling studs - won three of the four hosted TTT's this past season, only losing the fourth as a result of a crash. Frey was quick to add "even Postal and CSC have bad days in the TTT."
Despite their success at the event, the Tigers have openly acknowledged their lack of "triple-T" form throughout the spring, dropping teammates early on and forcing efforts to center around "taking care of" a third man to the finish as opposed to a smooth, consistent, and blazing throughout the event. Once it was determined that the two Nicks were closet caffeine addicts, a habit that contributed to brutal surging as they began their turns at the front, a 12-step program was enacted and the duo cured of their train-breaking ways. Faced with a the rapidly-approaching National Championships, the Tigers took a crash course in team work, focussing on form, tactics and communications, as well as several "touchy-feely" methods on which the team was unwilling to elaborate.
As the four scholar-athletes readied themselves this morning for the "race of truth," their cohesion was evident from their very warm up, during which individual prerogatives were absent in lieu of team concerns over fueling, physical preparation, strategy, and flatulence. As the riders took the line in unison and attended their countdown, Frey's bike was temporarily inspected for an overabundance of electrical tape, though it was promptly returned once it was learned he was 3 feet below the 100 foot limit.
At 10:03, the fearsome foursome departed and immediately tackled the first of the course's two formidable climbs. As they rhythmically ascended the pitch, careful preparation forestalled a full-out effort until the team hit the false-flat that served as a prelude to the second, more difficult ascent into a brutal headwind. At the first turn-around, which capped the course elevation gain, Sponsel was heard uttering "shouldn't it be harder than this?", which was followed by diabolical laughter. A reply came in the form of a tail-winded descent back to the start/finish, during which the group was forced to enter a rapid and restless rotation to maintain speed. Upon passing the S/F toward the second and final turnaround, an audible "snap" was heard from Roach. The team initially feared it was his soul - as he then asked to skip his turn in the rotation - but it was later determined merely to be one of his teeth, a self-inflicted method allowing Roach - who is half mako-shark - to taste blood. The other three continued unabated at their limit toward the final turnaround, whereafter Roach re-livened the weakening threesome by yelling authoritatively "I'm back in" and offering up several monster turns at the front and additional rest for Sponsel, Frey, and Bennette. Completely shattered, Roach ejected from the train and Frey took the reins for what seemed to be an hour, though by this time it was apparent that both space and time were bending against the effort. Bennette was left to the front for the final kilometer, and several unconfirmed reports rumor the sound barrier may actually have been broken.
Despite an impressive ride and even-more impressive team effort, the Tigers time of 24:00 fell just seconds short of a victory to the slightly-faster (though less good-looking) Western Washington University. Although victory was so close it could be tasted by all four Princetonians, the team was elated with their silver medals after competition with the top 19 teams in the nation. Roach, Sponsel, Frey, and Bennette were unanimous in their pride in the quality of their teamwork, and added that only stronger individual riders could have finished faster. Fatigued, yet dapper in their orange-and-black skinsuits, the men of PUC retreated to their armada of minivans while evading a mob of adoring young girls and disappeared amidst murmurs of "team-building" activities.
"Miss Rachel" Clattenburg, Nick "the quick", and Nick "the thick" will compete in the Saturday's Lake Perry Road Race and Sunday's Downtown Lawrence Criterium, where they hope to garner not only medals but National Leader's Jerseys, while Sponsel solicits a job at a history of science conference in Pennsylvania and Roach spends time locked in his room preparing for his Ph. D. generals by reading Extraordinarily Exciting Methods for Charging Ions in a Magnetic Plasma Surrounding a Toroidal Superconductor.