CU Cycling gets first victory of '07
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Over the weekend of March 10, the Cumberland University Cycling Team visited south of Atlanta in Newnan, Ga. to compete in three separate events. Georgia Tech hosted the events, which included  two road races and an individual time trial. Teams competing during the weekend consisted mainly of rival Lees-McRae College, Georgia Tech, Auburn University, Furman University, University of Georgia, Clemson University and Emory University.

Saturday morning saw riders compete in a 7.7-mile individual time trial, followed by a 62-mile road race later in the afternoon. Minneapolis native Peter Fairbanks of CU Cycling narrowly missed victory in the morning time trial, finishing in 17 minutes, 24 seconds, which was good enough for 2nd place to Spencer Beamer of Furman University at 17 minutes, four seconds. Beamer, a Knoxville native, is also a member of the Under-23 US National Team. McMinnville native Shawn Mullican finished 5th, and Whitney Stanbrough of Welsh, La. finished in the 7th spot, 48 seconds and 64 seconds off the winning pace, respectively. Ben Bevans of Hermitage rolled through the finish line in 18 minutes, 27 seconds, giving him a 12th-place finish.

"Peter demonstrated he's one of the strongest riders in our conference with his time today. Once he gets into a rhythm on a bike, he's got the power to ride faster without fatigue, so his result today is not surprising. Spencer has always been an outstanding time-trial competitor, so for Peter to nip at the wheels of a US national team member says a lot about his fitness. Shawn, Whitney and Ben also showed worthiness near the top of our conference, making a strong foursome," CU Cycling Team Director Tim Hall said.

The Saturday afternoon road race saw the cooler morning temps rise to warm, sunny skies with temps in the low 70s. The race went around the same 7.7-mile morning loop, but this race completed eight total laps, totaling 62 miles. Not surprisingly, it was CU Cycling proving to be the antagonists throughout as attacks off the main pack of riders were fierce. During the second lap, it was CU's Fairbanks and Stanbrough forming a five-man breakaway with riders from Clemson, Georgia and Lees-McRae. This five-man breakaway built up an advantage of over four minutes over nearly 30 miles of effort, but lack of cooperation between them proved to be its demise.

During lap five, Stanbrough attacked the breakaway and was finally reeled back by only two riders remaining in the breakaway. The three worked together for one lap before eventually getting caught by the peloton, and with two laps to go, it was a flurry of attacks taking place with none able to get away. Leading into the gradual uphill finish, the entire peloton was still together as the pack sprint began splitting to pieces. All of the energy expended in the breakaways and attacks had taken their toll on CU Cycling, but Shawn Mullican did pour his legs into a strong sprint for 8th place.

CU's Ben Bevans suffered scrapes and cuts during a crash on the last lap. A rider in his vicinity lost control of his bicycle and rammed into Bevans, throwing him down to the pavement, effectively ending his race for the day. Bevans' bike took a serious beating as well, as his carbon-fiber fork was completely shattered from the frame, but fortunately, he did not suffer serious injury. However, the damage to his bicycle meant Cumberland would be without him during Sunday's road race.

Team Director Hall commented, "First, we are very fortunate and thankful that Ben's injuries are minor. He's a strong, resilient kid and will bounce back quickly. Second, our early breakaway efforts took their toll later in the race, but when you're aggressively racing, that's the risk you take. It's never been our strategy to sit back and watch others animate the event, so while I'm disappointed in our results, I am very proud of our effort."

Sunday's road race was six laps of an 11-mile loop, totaling 66 miles. The weather was once again ideal for bicycle racing with sunny skies and 70 degrees. Despite the loss of Bevans, it did not stop CU Cycling from being the difference-makers in the race. One lap had yet to be finished when the entire peloton split in half, but the front half did contain Peter Fairbanks and Whitney Stanbrough. This pack of riders remained together ahead of the second group for a couple of laps before it too began shattering from attacks.

Predictably, it was CU's Fairbanks who ended up in a breakaway with two other riders -- Luke Winger of Lees-McRae and Spencer Beamer of Furman. Stanbrough stayed back in the second group to ensure no one from his group would bridge up to the leaders containing Fairbanks. Shawn Mullican was in the third big group of riders several more minutes behind. Fairbanks and his two companions worked together for several laps, building up their advantage to over five minutes before the decisive final lap.

Team support members in the feed zone were treated to a front-row seat to the winning move by none other than Peter Fairbanks of CU Cycling. As the three riders began climbing the day's final ascent, it was Fairbanks who launched a vicious attack for which Winger and Beamer had no response. Racing uphill, Fairbanks blazed by all team support and quickly built up an insurmountable advantage that he held for the remaining four miles of the race, crossing the finish line solo for CU Cycling's first victory of the 2007 season. Spencer Beamer ended up taking 2nd with Luke Winger in 3rd.

"Peter chose the perfect moment to attack. We were fortunate to witness his effort and were incredibly excited, cheering him on and watching him leave his competitors behind. When the loop is 11 miles long, you miss a lot of action, so it is pure joy to essentially see the winning move take place in cycling. What's more impressive is Peter won this same race last year. Winning a bike race is hard enough, but to repeat at the same event says a lot about his ability," Hall said.

The weekend at Georgia Tech certainly smiled on CU Cycling. Fairbanks posted a win and a 2nd-place finish, while Mullican and Stanbrough both wrapped up two separate Top 10 finishes for a total of six Top 10 finishes for the weekend. After two successful weekends of racing, the team will enjoy spring break before returning to action later in the month. The team's next collegiate event is at Auburn University on March 31 - April 1.