Watanabe ’11 Cruises to First Place Finish in First Race

Captain Austen Novis ’11 lead Andover Boys Varsity A Cycling in its first race of the season this week, finishing third by less than a second. Novis’ performance set the pace for a strong showing on Wednesday. The first 15 miles of the course were relatively flat, so riders in the A division tried to save their energy for the steep hill at the finish. “On a course like this, it really all comes down to climbing that last hill at full speed. It was an all out sprint finish across the line, and I lost by half a wheel length. Up the hill, the field really spread out, so I tried to stay towards the front as we began the climb. Towards the top I was really giving it my all, but I just couldn’t emerge first across the line,” said Novis. Behind Novis, Matthew Lloyd-Thomas ’12 and Charles Ganner ’10 finished among the top ten, and James Freeney ’13 finished just after them. Andover had no riders competing in the Girls Varsity A division, but a strong group in the Girls Varsity B. Pia Aehnlich ’10 finished third, and Eve Simister ’12 finished a few places behind her. Aehnlich had an impressive performance, hanging with the pack on the climb up the hill and rising onto her pedals for a strong finish. Simister, who finished sixth, said, “Like the boys’ race, our race was pretty mellow throughout the majority of the race on the flats. When we got to the hill though, it was pretty unexpected, the pace really picked up, so I just tried to maintain a good pace and stay with the lead group of riders, but the field started spreading out. It is good to have the experience and knowledge of a race with me, and I’m sure many other riders feel the same way.” In the Boys Varsity B Cycling race, Yuto Watanabe ’11 flew by the race leader with three miles left and rose up on his pedal, generating a huge lead and breaking away from the field. In his first race, Watanabe breezed to an easy win, flying across the finish line without looking back. The race, held at Holderness, tested the team’s inexperience as Andover faced three of its top rivals: Gould, Exeter and Deerfield, all strong competitors. Behind Watanabe in Varsity B, Max Block ’12 and Pierre-Julien Blouin ’12 also finished in the top ten. Watanabe said, “With around four miles left, one rider started to break away. I felt good, so I stayed on his wheel. As we started a big hill with a few miles left in the course, he slowed down, and I realized I could pass him.” “Up the hill, I kept a good tempo. I kept some energy in my tank because I wasn’t really sure about the course, but I am confident in my abilities climbing hills, and today, that’s what lead to my victory. I was really satisfied with my performance. It couldn’t have been much better, but I hope I can move up to the A division in upcoming races,” he continued. Watanabe’s impressive victory led Andover Boys Cycling to a solid first race of the season. “As a whole, we performed well, especially considering this was the first race for the majority of the team. We didn’t crash and everyone finished, with some especially strong performances.,” said Novis. The team will travel to Gould, a course with more hills, this weekend, where it hopes to improve and place more riders in the top three of each division.