Racers tackle a hill at April's Squawker Road Classic held in Durango. Fort Lewis riders left to right, in blue: Ryan Cleveland, Griffin Easter, Brian Morra, and Rotem Ishay.
The Fort Lewis Cycling team will again call itself the best in the country if it can continue its recent run of successes this weekend at the National Collegiate Cycling Association Road National Championships, in Madison, Wisc. The event completes the four-discipline collegiate cycling year, which also includes track, mountain biking, and cyclocross.
"We're looking at some strong competition," says Cycling's Director of Operations Dave Hagen. "But we've been dominant in the conference all season, so we're going into road nationals with a lot of momentum."
The team has been ranked #1 in the nation for the 2010-2011 season based on last year's final standings, and currently the team leads the nation in point standings. The men's team also boasts seven of the top 10 ranked riders in the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference, and six of the top 10 women riders, including the top three.
At road nationals, Fort Lewis will be represented by an eight-rider men's team and a six-rider women's team, who will be competing against a formidable field of some 30 other Division 1 squads. If the Cycling Team clinches another national title, it would be the fourth time Fort Lewis has earned the honor of being the top Division 1 collegiate cycling program in the country.
Already this season, the team has won a national championship in mountain biking, the team's 16th Division 1 national championship since it was founded in 1994. The team also finished second in the nation in cyclocross and third in track for this racing season.
There have also been notable individual successes, as Rotem Ishay won an individual national championship in mountain biking's cross country and short track events, and Sage Wilderman won mountain biking titles in women's short track and downhill, as well as the mountain biking omnium title.
What all that success this season means, says Hagen, is "they're all peaking at the right time."
Still, even though a #1 ranking will be an amazing feat, the Fort Lewis Cycling team has another goal it aims to achieve this weekend: a first-ever Division 1 road national championship.
"They've been practicing winning, and that'll lead to results," promises women's coach Jimmy Knight, noting that both the men's and women's team time trial squads took first place finishes in April's Squawker Road Classic, held in Durango and Bayfield, and the final event in the conference-competition season.
And they'll carry that optimism with them into the nationals this weekend, assures Director of Coaching Chris McGovern. "I feel confident saying we're going there for the win."
National Collegiate Cycling Association Road National Championships will be held May 6-8, in and around Madison, Wisconsin. Friday will feature the Road Race event, Saturday the Criterion, and Sunday the Team Time Trial race.
Follow the races and the Fort Lewis Cycling Team's experiences on the Fort Lewis Cycling blog at cycling.fortlewis.edu.
Learn more about Fort Lewis College Cycling here.
Men’s Road Race
Women’s Road Race
Men’s Team Time Trial
Women’s Team Time Trial