With the highest turnout in Southeastern Collegiate Cycling Conference history, Mercer Cycling successfully hosted the final race of the spring road season with a time trial, criterium and road race over the course of Saturday and Sunday.
With nearly 155 riders and 23 schools in tow, Saturday morning’s time trial was delayed by an hour due to inclement weather. As soon as the weather passed over, the action got hot on the back roads of Twiggs County as the team time trials and individual time trials got under way. Racing as Mercer’s lone entry in the individual time trial, Andrew Lockwood would post the sixth fastest time in the Men’s B time trial that morning, averaging slightly less than 22 mph over the 17.5 mile course over rolling hills.
Moving to the confines of Tattnall Square Park for Saturday afternoon’s criterium events, the spectators came out in droves to watch the five races of six categories zoom around the 0.7 mile loop with average speeds hovering between 25-28 mph for most of the afternoon. Sophomore Austin Sholly made the most of his showing in Men’s C criterium, controlling the race at points in route to sprinting to a 12th-place finish.
Lockwood and teammate Gabe Denes would enter the Men’s B criterium with a competitive field that included stacked teams from Brevard College, Lees-McRae College and Florida State. After fighting for position in the mid-pack in the opening laps Lockwood would get stuck behind two riders who touched wheels, crashing and losing some skin in the process.
Taking the free lap that comes with a crash, the wheel pit mechanics worked on Lockwood’s bike and got him back in the race at the tail end of the peloton. Denes worked up front in the top positions halfway through the 45-minute ordeal as Lockwood would zoom by at the 30-minute mark to take 2nd in a points premium, but in terms of a final result the Mercer boys were outmatched by the likes of the schools with larger teams. Denes would take 14th while Lockwood came in at 20th in the 33-man field.
Elizabeth Lee, looking for a strong ride before her second consecutive nationals appearance in Madison, Wis., sat in the field for a majority of the Women’s A criterium and finished 7th at the field sprint.
Sunday’s road race would prove to be the most challenging event of the weekend as the riders circled a 15.5-mile course, with several steep hills around the kaolin mines five miles from the city limits of Gordon, for several laps depending on the length of their race. Austin Sholly rode another strong race, garnering 5th place in the Men’s B group while Elizabeth Lee would take 9th in the Women’s A race. Lockwood and Denes would round out the main field in the Men’s B race with 23rd-place and 21st-place finish respectively.
With the SECCC Championship complete, Mercer Cycling turns their sights to three final events in the spring before their summer hiatus in which they will race individually. Athens Twilight (April 30), Historic Roswell Criterium (May 1) and the Macon State Championships (May 7) round out the team’s calendar for the spring season with the final race taking place around Tattnall Square Park.
Hosted by the Georgia Neurological Institute Cycling team (also known as the “Spine Team”), the ProGold Georgia State Criterium Championship will bring another elite group of cyclists to Macon to compete for a state championship including Mercer Cycling’s best riders. For more details of the race, visit the team’s webpage at http://mercercycling.blogspot.com.