Round 4 of the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (ECCC) series was in full swing this past weekend in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. Four riders from the McGill Cycling Team made the almost 9 hour journey from Montréal to South-Central Pennsylvania to enjoy some (mostly) amazing weather and a weekend full of racing; attaining some impressive results in the process.
The weekend featured three races over two days, starting off with a 3.6 km circuit race on Saturday afternoon. Strong winds and rolling hills meant everyone had to leave everything they had out on the course. In the Men’s B field Félix Fournier did just that, fighting through illness to finish an applaudable 15th place. Later on, in the Men’s A race was a race completely flipped upside down as a result of the strong winds, causing small groups to form all over road. An untimely chain drop caused Nick Kleban to lose contact with the leaders before eventually pulling out of the race while Felix Oestereich, despite suffering a slow leak in his rear tire, powered through to finish 13th at the finish line. However, the highlight of the circuit race for the team was Mary Hnatyshyn who in her first race in the Women’s A field, finished with the lead group of riders to finish an amazing 4th place.
Afterwards, the gang refuelled, regrouped and reaped the benefits in preparation for the second race of the weekend, a 10 km mass-start hill climb race. The course was comprised of an approximately 6 km shallow gradient climb sandwiched by flat stretches at the start and finish, which meant drafting and tactics would still be of utmost importance for success in this race. Félix F grinded out a solid 6th place finish from a strong group that broke away from the rest of Men’s B field. In the Men’s A race, Felix O just couldn’t catch a break, suffering a flat tire right at the base of the climb. Nick on the other hand, broke free, attacking and going clear of the Men’s A field with one other rider on one of steeper sections of the course. Eventually caught by another rider on the flat run-in to the finish, Nick finished an impressive 3rd place. The Women’s A race did not disappoint either, with Mary again crushing it to finish an outstanding 2nd place, dropping the third place rider by a whole two seconds in the final sprint to the line in the process.
Sunday called for the final and main event of the weekend, the Shippensburg Scurry road race. The race was destined to be an exciting one, boasting a course containing the infamous Horse Killer Road climb, a brutally steep climb said to test the guts of any rider who attempts it. Mix that in with thunderstorms on race day and you get a recipe for one spicy race!
In the Men’s B race, Félix bounced back great from the day previous and put in an amazing effort to roll across the line in 4th place. In the Men’s A race, Nick raced with everything he had, attacking the Horse Killer climb every lap until eventually a 6 man breakaway formed going over the climb with 20 km to go. Unfortunately this was still not enough to catch the early breakaway and Nick sprinted to come 2nd out of his group and a regardless impressive 4th on the day. Finally, in the Women’s A race, Mary again put on a show, snagging her second podium finish of the weekend by coming across the line in a phenomenal 3rd place in only her second ever road race.
Overall, it was a successful weekend for the squad, with multiple podium finishes and strong results across the board! The team now hunkers down for final exams before heading to Vermont in two weeks for ECCC championships.