History Repeats Itself
By Ian Sullivan
The Boston Beanpot is among the most storied races in the Northeast and in Collegiate cycling. In its previous incarnation it was one of the largest and certainly the best supported races in collegiate cycling. Adding to the legendary stature of the race was the two exceptional mass start races. While the veterinary School RR is dead and buried, the Tuft’s Criterium found new life this year. The crit has been described as one of the hardest in the US. A six corner Crit that features sizable elevation change, tricky corners, swirling winds and several cobbled crosswalks on the finishing straight. Every rider that has raced it regards the event with a mixture of respect, fear and longing to return.
The last time the Tuft’s Crit was held (2008) a break away of 4 riders got away early and lapped the field and eventual winner Josh Lipka (Unh) broke free again and almost lapped the field a second time.
As the Men’s A criterium got underway the parallels with three years ago were very strong. The main field stayed together for the first couple of laps. The course is only 1k long and the field was strung out single file the first couple of laps through. No one was really attacking, but a selection was being made. The course is so hard and so technical that those without their skills and strength perfectly tuned found themselves off the back and quickly pulled.
Matt Buckly (UVM) started the aggression, towing Evan Murphy (RISD) with him. Strong riding by those two and concerted blocking from UVM helped to establish the break. In the early laps of their escape they didn’t make much headway, only gaining a second or two every lap. On the long finishing straight they were still in site. Seemingly this boded well for the riders in the field.
But the break way soon to be joined. Two boys from Philly jumped out of the group and into pursuit of Murphy and Buckley. Ross Marklien (U Penn) and Charley Zamistil (Temple) made quick work of bridging the gap. Once the breakaway double its horsepower it really began to fly. The additional two riders added substantial firepower to an already strong group. The finishing straight is roughly 300 meters long and was offering a very stiff headwind with gusts over 25 mph. The additional two riders contributed greatly to the pace lining through this section.
The group of four worked excellently together as the laps ticked by. Every rider in the group was fully committed to the success of the break and had a lot to gain. Ross was closest to the sprinter’s jersey, Evan had been close to a win several times this year without quite securing it, Charley had some solid sprint points from Rutgers and found this course to suit him, and Matt had recently found out that UVM cycling was not yet qualified for nationals and he wasn’t as an individual. For him and his team strong results in the second half of the season were crucial if any of them are to go to Madison.
Through the first 5 of 6 sprint primes Ross lead the group across the line. Some wondered if a peleton negotiation or understanding had been reached. Ross perhaps had agreed to drive the group and not contest the sprint if he was allowed to take top placing in the sprints.
As the laps continued to count down the lead marked ever upward. With about 10 laps to go the breakaway came within striking distance of lapping the field. With so few laps left to race this presented a serious conundrum; they were in no danger of being caught, but aggressive racing would bring them into the main field. Several laps ticked by as they weighted their options.
Evan Murphy attacked the group of four, bringing Ross with him. The attack saw those two carried into the field and left Charley and Matt still just off the back. Once in the field Evan worked his way right to the front. It took Ross another lap or two to get to a position to shadow Evan. The appearance of these two in the group prodded some more aggressive racing from the field. This aggression dropped Derek Harden (UVM), who drifted back to Charley and Matt.
Derek was able to latch onto Charley and Matt and contribute to there efforts, but it was all for naught. Evan and Ross weren’t being brought back.
In the final sprint Evan Murphy was knocking elbows and battling it out with the boys in the field. Marklien decided to just cruise it in and not get involved in the scrum. He had gotten what he wanted at the end of the day, the green jersey.
Farther back the sprint was unfolding for 3rd place. Matt Buckley received a huge lead out from his teammate Derek Harden. Despite the huge disadvantage Charley battled valiantly coming up the left side of the road. Buckley took third, but with a little more road Charley may have gotten him.