In the first-ever collegiate cyclocross relay, there were 13 schools who took the the start line. The premise was simple: The event, modeled after the collegiate mountain bike relay, was added to change up the collegiate omnium scoring, with a four lap relay race on Friday afternoon. Each team could have up to four riders with at least one woman and one man, and no more than two men or two women.
The racing would proceed as such: One representative of each team starts the race and at the end of each lap, there is an exchange to another rider. The race was four laps long and riders could not do consecutive laps, so exchanges are mandatory each lap, even if a team has fewer than four riders.
This was a race of tactics: Did you send out your women first, did you save the fastest racer for last, do you let the newbie go in the middle?
While Lindenwood’s team took the holeshot, it was quickly clear that Marian had a tactic worked out: to win the first lap, by sending out their U23 star Andrew Dillman. Of course, the stacked team with Josh Johnson, Coryn Rivera and Ali Dragoo could have started any of their fast racers for a similar situation in the first lap, but they elected Dillman for his starting prowess. Other teams were most likely relieved to see that Kaitie Antonneau was not on the start line, though the young racer is a Marian student.
As the race wore on, Lindenwood valiantly held on to second position as long as possible, followed closely by Brevard. Brevard made the pass though, and going into two to go as Rivera took off in the lead for Marian, Brevard—with a male racer on the third lap—began to chase her down. The University of Vermont began to close gaps, and Ripon and King were doing the same.
Rivera told us that she worked to keep Brevard at bay, chopping lines to avoid allowing a pass, and it wasn’t until the final moments of the race that Brevard overtook Marian by a few seconds. Meanwhile, Fort Lewis began to make their way up towards the front of the race again.
Even though Brevard saved Redline’s Erica Zaveta for the last lap, her early lead wasn’t enough to keep Marian’s Johnson at bay as he quickly overtook her and began what was essentially a parade lap for the school.
For those who were hoping for some collegiate humor injected into the races, heading into the last lap, four racers came in at the same time, which meant a four team relay handoff, which amused spectating collegiate racers (some in costumes near the course). And, of course, Josh Johnson skidded his bike across the line for the win.
Interview with the Marian racers:
Collegiate Relay Results - USA Cycling National Championships of Cyclocross 2014
Fort Lewis College
University of Vermont
Appalachian State University
Colorado Mesa University
Colorado State University
Massachusetts Institute of Tech
Marian Wins in First Ever Collegiate Relay at the 2014 National Cyclocross Championships – Gallery from Steve Anderson