Taking it to the road
UNH plays host to ECCCC cycling tournament where ‘Cats finish second
Cyclists from more than 50 colleges battled strong headwinds this weekend as more than 400 participants competed in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference Championship, at the University of New Hampshire. It was the first year UNH has hosted the conference championship, which brought in hundreds of spectators to the Durham area to cheer on the riders.
The event began on Saturday, April 28, as teams raced around the circumference of Bow Lake, with the top riders in each division scoring points for their teams. On Sunday the cyclists raced in a criterium, looping around a one-kilometer course multiple times and tallying additional points for team, while top individual riders won cash purses.
The race was broken up by division ranging from men's and women's A to Introductory levels. Members of the community were encouraged to participate through Pro- 1-2-3, Women's 4 and Master's 35-plus races. In addition, a children's lap was organized where the next generation of riders pedaled a single lap around the course.
The UNH cycling team was a force to be reckoned with as they earned 478 points throughout the weekend, landing the Wildcats in second place overall behind only Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"Our team is kicking ass this year," James Bolognani, a member of the UNH cycling club, said. "We have a big team this year and so even the beginners are scoring crucial points for the team."
Bolognani came in 17th in the Men's A long distance race on Saturday, pedaling 85 miles against top seeded cyclists from the East Coast, scoring 10 points for UNH.
"I have been preparing all season for this race," Bolognani said.
Danielle Baron had a phenomenal race placing 5th in the Women's A Divison, riding 60 miles and scoring 102 points.
The Wildcats proved their strength in Sunday's criterium as well, sweeping points in nearly every category. Greg DiSanto, Taylor Smith and James Kennedy racked up a combined 146 points for the Wildcats in the Men's B criterium race finishing fourth, fifth and sixth and within hundreds of seconds of one another.
Erin Spaulding of UNH also had a strong weekend, finishing first in the Woman's B division and adding 80 points to the teams total.
Although it was the championship race, riders from colleges ranging from Maine to Delaware were friendly towards one another, laughing and congratulating other teams throughout the day.
"We are racing with the same guys for eight weeks, so we know one another pretty well," Bolognani said. "There is a lot of camaraderie between racers. Last weekend we had a 'jorts' competition where everyone dressed in denim outfits. It is a fun dynamic."
Isabella Oleksy, UNH Cycling president, acted as a crucial coordinator for the event seeking sponsors and championing a $4,000 grant from the Parent's Association. All profits from the race are directed towards the cycling clubs annual fund and helps covering the cost of travel and supplies.
This year the money will also be spent on sending Oleksy and Bolognani to nationals, which is being hosted in Utah.
"The event helped stimulate the local economy by drawing in hundreds of bike racers to stay in nearby hotels and eat at local restaurants. With the help of our sponsors this event was a great success and will surely become an annual spring tradition for the university," Oleksy said.
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