Columbia Grant’s Tomb Criterium, Men’s A Race Report
By Steven Hopengarten – ECCC News Editor
Heavy rains, high winds and frigid temperatures did not stop the University of Vermont (UVM) from claiming victory on Saturday with its first Men’s A victory of the season by senior Alex Cox. The win came during some of the worst weather on the eastern seaboard in recent history. High winds and flooding caused part of the traditional Grant’s Tomb Criterium to be cut out, resulting in a tear dropped course as opposed to the 5 turn classic.
The race got going under heavy downpour with 39 starters ready to tackle the course and the conditions. With a neutral start for the first half lap the field sat complacent until the pace car sped away. Things got started with a few minor attacks of no real significance until on the second lap UVM Freshman Matt Mainer attacked hard building up a hundred meter advantage. However the break was short lived and he was reeled back in by the field within a lap and a counter attack came by UVM Senior Alex Cox. After the race Cox explained his strategy, “lay it down hard early while everyone’s miserable and establish a break then use big power to my advantage on the headwind section.”
Cox then successfully build up a solo lead to 15 seconds for two laps. At which point a bridge attempt was initiated by Boston University’s (BU) Andrew Inglis, Dartmouth’s Trevor Eide and Bucknell’s Aaron Myers. The group of three worked well together and caught Cox within a lap. After the catch the foursome shared the workload, taking advantage of the high winds making bridge attempts extremely difficult.
Once the break had been established the main field was fairly controlled as the major teams in the field, Boston University (4 starters) , and UVM (7 starters) all had riders in the break. Only the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) was able to counter the power of UVM and BU with 3 starters, making it one of the larger teams in the field. As the race went on the conditions began to take their toll on the riders; making it a race of attrition, with many dropping off the back of the peleton and mercifully being pulled from the course and weather by the race officials, while 10 other riders dropped out due to mechanical failures, crashes or simply being unable to continue in the horrible conditions.
With 11 laps to go the foursome up front had built up a lead to over 43 seconds, just over half a lap over the main group and began to look at each other. But they stuck together, perhaps due to concerns with cornering or staying away at high speeds until the final lap where things began to heat up. The first attack was by Aaron Myers (Bucknell) but was quickly shut down and the foursome regrouped. Then Alex Cox (UVM) counter attacked on the back stretch leaving a small gap forcing Eide (Dartmouth) to chase and Myers to quikly follow, Inglis (BU) fell of the group while Cox soloed to victory with a 5 second gap. Eide held on to second, Myers with third and Inglis hung on to finish fourth.
Meanwhile the main field was attacked by Max Korus (Penn) at the bell to claim 5th place. New York University’s Pavel Gonda winner of the Rutgers Criterium claimed sixth; Boston University’s Nathan Kupperstock, winner of the Rutgers Circuit Race and ECCC Overall Leader, Lee Peters (UVM) both finished in the main group, placing 11th and 13th respectively.
At the end of the day, the Winner, Alex Cox had a few comments on the conditions, “The ECCC breeds hardmen/women. I was glad to see so many racers out in apocalyptic weather.” He continued, “I’m sad about the shorter course, and glad [the race] went on. I heard (Conference Director) Joe [Kopena] was only one pushing to hold race. We should all HTFU like him.”