Men’s A: Bennette Rewards Teammate’s Hard Work
By Jake Sisson – Cornell University
The Princeton University duo of Nick Bennette and Austin Roach proved in the Philly Phlyer Road Race just how effective teamwork can be, even if your team is only made up of two riders. The Princeton tandem worked over an elite group of riders to spring Bennette to victory, after Roach spent nearly the entire day in the wind to set his teammate up for victory. Bennette, who has long been known for his fast finishing, showed that explosiveness in stamping his authority on the last one hundred meters of the race.
A newly redesigned course at the Philly Phlyer provided some added intrigue that had been previously absent from the weekend’s signature race. The addition of technical corners in the early portion of the six-mile circuit put positioning in the pack at a premium, and rewarded smarts as well as power in a way the conference had yet to see this season. As a result, the chances that an escape group would bring home victory were high, and riders were constantly on edge.
Austin Roach was keen to test his luck at staying away from the pack, and on the first of five laps, he launched the attack that would see him off the front for the majority of the race. Initially, the University of Vermont’s Alex Cox followed Roach’s move, and the duo quickly opened up a gap of around ten seconds. The field was not keen to let the two press their advantage any further, and our more riders would soon bridge to the leaders as they began the second lap.
Those four riders included Penn State’s Roberto Torres-Aquiar, Bucknell’s Jeffrey Salvitti and ECCC Overall Leader Max Korus, of the University of Pennsylvania. Knowing that there would be little chance of that group surviving to the end, Roach again took off out of the lead group, while the rest faded back to the peloton. Going in the opposite direction was UVM’s Owen Pope, who got across to Roach as the Princeton man had established another ten-second advantage in his favor.
Pope would eventually fade off of Roach’s pace, and Roach was left to race the wind alone for the better part of a lap, before the University of Pittsburgh’s Robert Stumpf attacked the chasing pack and helped Roach establish his largest gap of the day – twenty seconds. Korus again was the catalyst behind cutting down Roach’s advantage, when he bridged up to Roach and Stumpf and sparked the eventual winning move.
Keyed by Korus’ move to the front, the final, elite selection pulled twelve more riders up to the front of the race, led by Korus, Stumpf and Bennette. Riders continued to cross the gap to the winning move, and when no more were able to join the leaders, the front group settled into a double paceline to solidify their advantage. By the time the front group hit the top of the day’s final climb, they had extended their gap to twenty-five seconds, and had all but eliminated the rest of the competition.
In an attempt to surprise the sprinters, UVM’s Vincent Scalia took off earlier than expected, and led the field out of the roundabout that stood around three hundred meters from the finish line. Five riders were able to latch on to Scalia’s wheel, and with one hundred meters to go, the sprint to the line began in earnest. Bennette exploded into the wind from third wheel, and came charging around the fading Scalia’s right, while Penn’s Sean Whiteman and UVM’s Lee Peters attempted to go around Scalia’s left. Bennette’s acceleration proved to be too much for Whiteman and Peters, and despite Whiteman’s last-ditch lunge for the line, Bennette was able to hold on for the victory. Bennette only edged Whiteman by half a wheel length, but it was enough to take home the win, while Whiteman would have to settle for second. Peters took a close third with Bucknell’s Slavitti in fourth and Korus in fifth. Despite his nearly daylong breakaway, Roach proved to be the last man to hold off the chasing peloton, finishing fifteenth.