Men’s A: Korus Dominates in the Yellow Jersey
By Jake Sisson – Cornell University
University of Pennsylvania rider Max Korus may have had to answer questions about whether he was worthy of wearing the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference’s Series Leader’s jersey. After thoroughly dominating the inaugural Philly Phlyer Navy Yard Criterium, Korus may have silenced all of his critics. Korus exploded out of the day’s final corner, winning a furious sprint to the line to take home his second victory of the season and extend his ECCC overall lead.
The Philly Phlyer’s new venue was arguably the most technical course the ECCC has seen this season. As a result, there was no room for rest, and for nearly the entire race, the field was strung out in single file fight for survival. Those unlucky enough to find themselves at the rear of the pack were in constant danger of an early end to their day. Straight from the opening whistle, attacks began to split off the front of the bunch. With the race only one lap old, ECCC sprint leader Trevor Eide, of Dartmouth College, attempted to take the group by surprise, and found the University of Vermont’s Alex Cox and Rutgers University’s Patrick Bradley for Company. Their effort may not have lasted long, but it set the tone for the rest of the race.
Only three laps were in the books when the day’s first intermediate sprint presented itself. Despite his earlier effort, it was Eide who seemed determined to close the point gap to Korus and take over the ECCC overall leader’s jersey. Eide took the top points in the sprint ahead of Cox and Boston University’s Nathan Kupperstock. Without reprieve, attacks tried to settle the day’s score early, without success. Overall leader Max Korus was repeatedly seen on the front of the race, covering dangerous attacks on his own, despite being a member of a strong team.
Thanks in large part to the efforts of Korus, the group came into the second intermediate sprint together, and while it took a while for the sprint to begin, UVM’s Lee Peters eventually emerged from the pack to take top points, ahead of a motivated Eide and Peters’ UVM teammate Vincent Scalia. Determined to make the best of his first criterium as an A racer, UVM’s Tristan Baldwin went on a sly counter attack after taking fourth on the second intermediate sprint. Baldwin’s advantage maxed out at ten seconds, before Korus again brought the affair back together.
Baldwin was allowed to dangle ahead of the pack until it was time for intermediate sprint number three, where it was Scalia this time taking top honors ahead of Korus and Cox. Following the sprint, the University of Connecticut’s Ryan O’Hara went on the attack, but his sojourn looked to be short-lived, when who else but Max Korus took the front of the pack. As the pace lifted at the front, Eide, wearing the season’s green sprinter’s jersey, looked to be the main victim, as he was seen dangling off the back of the group, trying to stretch out his back for the final push to the line.
By lap sixteen, it was time for another intermediate sprint, and this time it was UVM’s Alex Cox who led a clean sweep of the sprint, leading teammates Derek Harnden and Lee Peters to the line. Korus managed to pick up one point with fourth place in the sprint as a reward for his chasing efforts. Attacks continued to try, in vain, to escape the grip that Korus had on the front of the group, and again it was time for an intermediate sprint. Cox again showed that he is going to be a sprinter to watch for the rest of the season, taking his second straight top sprint placing, this time outpacing Korus and Peters to the line. Behind, Eide was not having a day to remember, as he had to duck into the pit just before the sprint, slowed by a number of broken spokes. Amazingly, Eide kept things upright and was back in the group one lap later, after taking a free lap. Eide did pay the price, however, as he could not contest Korus for the prime sprint.
Things looked to be taking a dramatic turn just before the final intermediate sprint on lap twenty-seven, as a breakaway that included the University of Pittsburgh’s Andrew Seitz, UVM’s Marshall Ambros and Penn’s Sean Whiteman, who were joined one lap later by UVM’s Baldwin, UConn’s O’Hara and Boston University’s Kupperstock, managed to escape the field. The group survived long enough for Baldwin to take top honors in the sprint ahead of O’Hara and Whiteman. Things came back together for the final time just following the sprint and the pack geared up for a final sprint.
Heading into the sprint, UVM looked determined to take the victory, putting four riders into the top seven positions. Behind the leading duo from Vermont was a well-positioned Korus, who looked to be in the perfect spot for the win. Korus dashed to the front of the pack as they entered the final corner and powered down the finishing stretch to win by nearly a bike length. UVM’s Peters wrapped up a strong sprinting day, taking second ahead of UConn’s Benjamin Carbonetti. Fourth went to Ryan Nye, who was visiting the ECCC from the University of Arizona, who just edged UVM’s Scalia.