Women’s A/B: Buckley Clinches in Dominating Fashion
Martha Buckley of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology already had a many times over unassailable lead at the top of the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference’s overall leader board before she lined up for the Academy Hill Road Race, the final race of the 2010 Dartmouth L’Enfer du Nord and the final race of the ECCC road racing season. But if you think that Buckley was about to sit back and bask in the glory that the leader’s jersey afforded her, you would be sorely mistaken. Buckley set out to finish off her unrivaled Women’s A season on a high note by taking a dominating victory, and she did just that, besting the women’s A field by over eleven minutes, and finishing off the ECCC leader’s jersey double, winning the ECCC overall and ECCC sprint competitions in the same season. New England Conservatory’s Alexandra Berndt traded places with the University of New Hampshire’s Isabella Olesky and rode the day in the main chase group of A riders to take the win in the Women’s B event.
The pace in the Women’s A/B field was cordial as the group passed through the feed zone for the first of four times that they would round the 12.5 main loop south of Thetford, New Hampshire. The calm truce in the peloton would be shattered as the women’s fields hit the climb out of Norwich for the first time. In the space of one lap, Buckley succeeded in ripping the peloton to shreds, and fans in the feed zone were left scratching their heads for minutes on end as they waited for the peloton to work their way up the road, minutes behind the ECCC overall leader. Buckley would need to do little more than ride at her own steady pace for the final three laps to assure herself victory, while the peloton was left racing for second place.
And race for second they did, as an elite chase group emerged from the shattered remnants of the peloton. The group contained Buckley’s MIT teammate Yuri Matsumoto, Harvard University’s Eun Young Choi, Dartmouth College’s Claire McKenna and Elle Anderson, Yale University’s Sarah Bowman, the University of Connecticut’s Jena Greaser and Columbia University’s Aimee Layton. There was a lot on the line in the chasing group, as the minor placings in the overall standings were up for grabs as Harvard’s Anna McLoon had elected to race the men’s B race, and was holding the second spot in the overall standings. Anderson had a good chance of leapfrogging McLoon with a good finish in the road race and she was keen on making that happen.
Also making an appearance in the A chase group was Alexandra Berndt, who had made the split and was disappearing up the road as the leader of the women’s B event. Chasing essentially alone not far behind was Isabella Olesky, who was hoping to repeat her criterium victory from Saturday. Without much help, Olesky would have to focus on assuring herself of a second place finish, as anything less could see her lose a shot at taking home the women’s B overall title, which she was busy riding herself into a position to win.
As the miles counted down, Buckley’s advantage continued to expand. Buckley was riding like a woman possessed, and never for a moment seemed to be losing time to a united chase group. Despite not needing any more insurance time, Buckley continued to press forward, and hit the final climb to victory with an extremely comfortable advantage. Buckley finished up an outstanding season with a commanding victory, and everyone’s watches started the countdown to second place. Behind, the chase group began to splinter as its constituents raced up to the finish line. Yuri Matsumoto was the class of the chase group, stopping the clock for second 11:36 behind her teammate. 21 seconds behind Matsumoto was the day’s bronze medal winner, Eun Young Choi, followed by Dartmouth’s McKenna a further 2 seconds behind Choi. Sarah Bowman rounded out the top five, 14 seconds behind McKenna.
Berndt managed to stick with the chase group long enough to hold off Olesky by 1:01 over 61 miles of racing. Olesky took the second step on the podium, 42 seconds ahead of the University of Vermont’s Jennie Bender, 59 seconds ahead of fourth placed Rebecca Carew of the University of Pennsylvania and 1:32 ahead of Harvard’s Maja Janas, who rounded out the top five.
With her win, Buckley easily extended her overall margin over the absent McLoon, who was also overtaken by Dartmouth’s Anderson, who finished up her day in seventh place, earning her just enough points to gap Harvard’s McLoon by twenty. McLoon managed to hang on for third and become the top finishing division one rider overall. Yuri Matsumoto moved up to fourth overall, jumping ahead of fifth placed Eun Young Choi by two points, who was also second in division one. Sixth overall and fourth in division two was Dartmouth’s Claire McKenna, while Pennsylvania State University’s Jessica Kutz rounded out the division one overall podium in seventh place overall.
Isabello Olesky earned enough points on the weekend to overhaul Rutgers University’s Molly Hurford, who skipped the Dartmouth weekend, for the overall victory in the women’s B. Hurford hung on to second overall, thanks to an unparalleled early season. Berndt moved herself into third place, after fourth place finisher, Sarah Bowman, moved herself up to the A category for the final weekend of the year. Fifth place went to KimberlyAnn Zubris of Boston University.