Clay, Stetson Pedal Cycling To Top Place in League Standings

This past week, the Andover cyclists faced two tough races, testing the team’s sprinting abilities and knowledge of team tactics. Last Saturday’s race, hosted by the Blue’s archrival Exeter, consisted of a snaking criterium course complete with several 180-degree turns. This day’s race was in the form of a two-man time trial, during which riders may only draft off of their designated team partner. The flat, fast-paced course was set in the heart of Exeter’s campus. After a thorough warm-up, the Lady Blue headed out in 20 second intervals to prove their worth. The girls’ cycling team placed 4th overall, showing great improvement and aptness from previous races. Anne Koehler ’03 exhibited great strength and stoutness, racing in two heats to make up for a missing teammate. The boys’ B team also had a big day on Saturday. Not only did they manage to win the whole race, they did it with a severe disadvantage. Sporting only two riders, this team was at a disadvantage, as each school was required to race a minimum of two teams of two riders in each division. This meant that PA’s one pair had to race twice, once in each heat set off around the course. Supercharged cyclist Paull Randt ’04 and muscle bound Peter Chiu ’03 rocketed their way around the challenging turns. In the first heat they completed the course with a time good enough for 1st place overall. Merely one minute after completing their glorious victory, they were sent off to ride their second run of the course, this time managing to pull out a time placing them in 4th overall. The two excellent places earned by the ‘B’ team were good enough to mark them victorious for the day. The skilled A team riders had to face intense competition on Saturday. Though starting the day with hopeful wishes, the boys’ perfect record thus far was to be dashed by a disastrous turn of events. First off, on the course was dynamic pair of Anthony Roldan ’04 and Dave Morse ’04. After three laps with times on par for a 1st place finish, Roldan unavoidably fell on a fast 180 degree turn. This unfortunate event stalled the racing pair two whole minutes and erased their chances of placing respectably. After the fall, Roldan mounted his bike frazzled and working with teammate Morse, he managed to fight back from the two minute loss and still best two Exeter pairs. Thatcher Clay ’04 and Peter Stetson ’03 zipped through the turns in the third heat. Their complementary riding styles helped them fluidly navigate the various difficulties of the course. They showed great ability and speed, managing to secure a 2nd place finish. Stetson later said, “Though the course was precarious and the venue was poorly organized, overall it was a fun experience. A little danger is what we sometimes live for.” On Wednesday, the team headed up to Loudon, New Hampshire, for the New England Championships. This race is characterized by its high speeds and high tensions, and normally the PA cycling team takes a back seat to the action. This year was different for the big boys in blue. The girls were the first group to attempt the 10 lap one-mile loop. The girls put in a concerted effort to stick together and win, however, the main girls pack quickly dissolved on the course’s sharp turns. Unfortunately, on the last sharp turn of the last lap, Alison Murphy ’05 went down on the pavement. She made a surprisingly quick recovery; however, she was not able to complete the course. Morissa Sobelson ’05 remarked, “It was a little like the Indie 500, complete with killer turns, screaming fans, and even a few unfortunate fender benders. We were reminded once again that, when it comes to cycling, you have to be ready for anything.” The JV boys meet was filled with intense competition as well. Battling with disease and an infected spider bite, Randt rode strong but was dropped by the main pack of riders. “I am just happy about my win at Exeter; that was my race,” Randt commented. The real victory of the day came in the boys A race. The boys came to the starting line, knowing what they had to do and feeling ready to do it. “Everything just clicked, our bikes were ready to roll from the start of the race,” Clay noted about the race. The race started off with an early formidable attack led by Roldan. Finally the pack caught Roldan, at which point Morse made his move to thin the group out. By sprinting, Morse and Roldan cut the pack down to 7 riders, 4 of them from Andover. Piotr Brzezinksi ’03, followed a strong attack led by a Tilton rider, was cruising fine until his bike encountered some mechanical failure. The pack by this point was split with the Tilton rider in front, Stetson and two Holderness riders followed closely by Morse and Clay. Clay, who has been battling pneumonia for the past couple of weeks, almost quit in the middle as he was having difficulty breathing. Clay and Morse joined up with Stetson and the Holderness riders. Due to a brilliant display of professional level racing tactics led by Stetson and Morse, the two Holderness riders were completely spent going into the final sprint. Clay led the sprint off and took second, followed by Morse in third and Stetson in fourth. “I am really proud of the team. We seamlessly rode together to achieve an incredible victory using flawless team tactics,” Captain Stetson said. With only two more races in the season, Andover is sitting in the prep school league standings comfortably in 1st place. Without a doubt, a bright shiny cycling trophy will be soon added to the trophy case in Borden Gym.