Men’s A: Gonda Wins Sprint by Decision
By Jake Sisson – Cornell University
A technically demanding day at Trenton, New Jersey’s Cadwalader Park criterium produced some of the most aggressive racing that the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference has seen this season. A tricky ascent to the line set up a close sprint, and after an official’s review, New York University’s Pavel Gonda was declared the victor in the race’s inaugural iteration. The final victory was not the only competition that saw hot competition, as Dartmouth’s Trevor Eide and the University of Vermont’s Alex Cox were locked in a dogfight for the ECCC points jersey.
Attacks came early and often, as many riders were looking to use the course’s challenging terrain to launch a winning breakaway. The list of protagonists was extensive, including Rutgers’ Patrick Bradley, Greg Battista and Charlie Thompson, UVM’s Chris Hamlin, Jacob Bobrow and Derek Harnden, University of Pittsburgh’s Andrew Seitz and Nicholas Reinert, Cornell’s Jake Bolewski and Penn State’s Jeremy Shirock and Wyatt Stoup. Bradley was mainly responsible for two small attacks early in the race, but by lap four, the group had reassembled for the first intermediate sprint. Act one of the drama between Cox and Eide saw Cox take the top points in the first sprint, narrowly besting Eide and Boston University’s Nathan Kupperstock.
Following the sprint, Bradley was on the move again, this time with Bobrow, Battista and Seitz, establishing a small gap that would see them ahead of the group for two laps. As Seitz fell off the pace, Gonda, who seemed to be showing his hand early in the race, replaced him in the move. The group was reabsorbed on lap seven as the field lined up for intermediate sprint number two. Again, it was Cox who took the sprint victory, ahead of Thompson and Cox’s UVM teammate Tristan Baldwin. Eide was left to nurse his lead in the points competition after only managing one point in the sprint.
Bradley seemed insistent on upsetting the sprinters, and took off one lap later, and this time had Harnden and Stoup for company. As the preceeding move faltered, UVM’s Hamlin was the next to attack, and was joined by Cornell’s Bolewski. Bolewski briefly made contact as they approached the third intermediate sprint on lap ten. Hamlin managed to hold off the field to take the maximum points on the sprint, as Cox bested Eide to the line for second and third respectively. Bolewski managed to hang on to take one point home for his breakaway effort. After picking up his five points, Hamlin elected to return to the peloton.
UVM’s Bobrow and Shirock were next to take their leave of the group, and established the day’s most effective breakaway attempt, which managed a maximum gap of 12 seconds. They could not, however, hold off a determined chasing pack, out of which Cox again outsprinted the field for the fourth intermediate sprint on lap thirteen. Cox led a UVM sweep of the top three sprint placings, ahead of Harnden and Lee Peters.
The group remained mostly together until lap sixteen, when the day’s fifth intermediate sprint saw Thompson best Cox to the line, ahead of Baldwin and ECCC overall leader Max Korus, of the University of Pennsylvania. After winning the sprint, Thompson decided to try his hand at holding off the sprinters, and took off alone. Reinert, was the only man to get across to Thompson’s move, and after regaining some of his strength, dropped the Rutgers rider and struck out on his own. Reinert’s move was the day’s most dangerous, and he held an eight second advantage as he got the bell for one lap to go.
It was not to be for Reinert, however, as the group was back together for a mass sprint to the line. The sprint exploded out of the left side of the field, and it was quickly a two horse race between Gonda and Penn’s Sean Whiteman. Gonda attempted to come around the right side of the Penn rider, but ran out of room as the finish line approached. Whiteman looked to have edged the NYU rider, and placed Penn atop the podium for the second race in a row – after Korus was victorious in the morning’s time trial. Unfortunately, an officiating error saw Whiteman deemed ineligible for the victory, and it was Gonda who declared the winner. Behind, it was Bradley, who rode arguably the day’s best race, who stepped onto the second step of the podium.