'We've gotten a ton of positive feedback'
The same cyclists who had fasted all weekend so they could stay fast, feasted Sunday afternoon during the National Collegiate Cycling Championships’ awards ceremony at 75th Street Brewery.
At least 100 riders, many still wearing their sweaty uniforms, shared stories, sipped beers, snapped pictures and shook hands after the completion of the three-day spectacle that brought more than 1,000 cyclists and fans to Lawrence this weekend.
“I’m completely happy how everything turned out,” said race director Bill Marshall. “It was our first national championship, and obviously there are going to be a few kinks, but we’ve gotten a ton of positive feedback.
“We opened up our arms for the cyclists to come into this community, and I think both groups came together really nicely.”
Things certainly turned out dandy for Colorado University and Whitman College. Those schools won the overall team national championships in Division One and Two, respectively.
The overall team titles are determined by a combination of men’s and women’s results from Friday’s criterium, Saturday’s road race and Sunday’s team time trial.
Colorado, which held off the University of California-Berkeley by a score of 446-410, dethroned the Golden Bears for the first time in four years as the nation’s best cycling squad.
Fort Lewis College took the team time trial for the Division One men with 84 points, while Lees-McRae was the Division Two winner. Berkeley came back to capture the women’s Division One TTT crown, while Whitman won the Division Two race.
Penn State senior Bobby Lea finally found the Division One omnium, or overall, title he had been chasing for five national road races.
“I think it was just me being a couple of years older and having a little bit better base fitness,” said Lea, who won Saturday’s 84.6-mile road race and was second in Friday’s one-mile crit.
The Division Two omnium winners were Brent Bookwater of Lees-McRae for the men and Cumberland College’s Stephanie Hannos for the women.
The women’s Division One omnium champ, Amber Rais of Stanford, said she was as much in awe of her own standout performance as she was with the “special job” that Kansas University’s club cycling team and other volunteers did in holding nationals.
“I was in charge of directing our team mountain bike race earlier in the year, and I know how difficult that little race was to put on, so I can’t imagine how much effort was put into this,” Rais said. “Kansas did a really classy job.”
Marshall insisted everyone involved would try to make things even more spectacular for racers during the next two road nationals that will be held in Lawrence.
But it might be hard for KU’s Brian Jensen to be any more pleased.
The KU sophomore nearly became the Division One criterium champ; he led the race on its final lap before falling to a 14th-place finish. He also was in the running for the road-race title, but settled for third.
Those efforts placed him third in the omnium standings, but Jensen said he was happy knowing he made a splash on the national cycling scene.
“I’m very satisfied with how well things went this weekend,” he said. “But this is just my first big event of the summer. Hopefully it will lead to bigger and better things.
“And then maybe next year I can try my luck at nationals again.”