Austin Roach flies the coop in the Men’s A Crit
By Benjamin Civiletti and Ian Sullivan
The criterium at Rutgers on Saturday was the first real chance for riders to show the ECCC what they’d done all winter. While some had clearly spent their winter hibernating, eating and sleeping, others arrived in fighting trim and ready to battle for the top places.
The Men’s A field was anxious to get racing, tripping over each other to get to the front during staging. The first laps were fast leading up to the prime, where Charles Zamastil (Temple) got across the line first. As soon as the pace slowed after the sprint, Austin Roach of Princeton attacked alone and opened a huge lead. Roach had won the ITT that morning by an impressive margin, but the field failed to react to his move. The advantage grew from ten seconds to twenty over the next five laps, and Roach did not appear to be in any difficulty. Riding tempo off the front, he continued to widen the gap.
After taking the second and third primes, Roach had about 30 seconds on the main field,where the pace had slowed slightly. Still seeming comfortable on the bike, the Princeton ridertook primes four and five. Well behind him on the back side of the course, a sizable crash rippled through the group. Riders from several schools were on the ground, and it was discovered that a Dartmouth rider had broken his collarbone. Luckily, the paramedics were readily available, and took good care of all the injured riders. Some were able to rejoin the pack, others clearly not. The crash sent about twenty riders to the pit to get a free lap and introduced disorder and discord into the chasing efforts of the peleton.
All the while Austin Roach maintained his lead, taking the final prime and eventually winning the race. His show of strength was certainly a surprise at the first race after a long winter. Matthew Furlow (UPenn) won the sprint from a five-man break to take second place, while Jeffrey Salvitti of Bucknell finished third. Though Rutgers had some difficulty organizing this race, they pulled it off well in the end. Most were very happy with their day, and the 50 degree sunshine didn’t hurt either. After seeing the varying fitness levels in Men’s A at the criterium, it will be interesting to see how the season plays out.