Padilla leads cyclists in first two road events
Wednesday, February 23, 2011

LEBANON, Tenn. – Senior Alejandro Padilla posted three Top 10 finishes, including two third-place showings, while the Bulldogs put four riders in the Top 10 in the criterium at Florida and finished second overall in the team time trial at UF after the first two weekends of road racing.

Univ. of Florida – Swamp Classic in Gainesville on February 5-6
Florida hosted a criterium and team time-trial on the first day and another criterium on the second day of racing. Schools competing were Florida, Clemson, Mars Hill, Furman, Florida State, Alabama, King College, South Florida, Georgia State, Georgia Tech and College of Charleston.

The weekend kicked off with a 60-minute criterium and Cumberland animated the race from the start. Padilla and Mathew Meunier eventually helped form a six-man breakaway that held off the field by 25 seconds.

Padilla sprinted for third place and Meunier placed sixth. Ben Salibra took second in the field sprint and eighth overall, while Ryan Sullivan placed 10th to put four Bulldogs in the Top 10. Britton Kinnard and Alex Parks finished 13th and 25th, respectively.

Later that afternoon Padilla, Meunier, Sullivan and Kinnard competed in the two-mile team time trial. The team had a small scare at the beginning when a woman ran into the middle of the road during the team’s start, knocking Kinnard down to the pavement.

Fortunately both Kinnard and the woman were unharmed and the team was allowed a restart. Cumberland’s time of 4:55 was second overall, just four seconds off the winning time by Florida.

“Our first day of racing in 2011 went as smoothly as we could have hoped for considering our success,” head coach Tim Hall said. “We have never raced this early in the calendar year. I wasn’t sure if our training would have us ready since we focus on long, hard training rides in February. However, the team handled the intensity quite well.”

Day two was held at the Gainesville Speedway for a 70-minute criterium on an open road course. Once again the team set the tone, with Sullivan and Meunier in another seven-man breakaway while the remaining Bulldogs helped control the chasing pack.

The team lost Meunier late in the race when he crashed coming out of a 180-degree turn, leaving Sullivan on his own to fight off the attacks from the other five breakaway riders, three of whom were from Florida.

Sullivan sprinted for fourth while Kyle Rohan of Florida won the final sprint. Salibra took over the front of the pack to leadout Padilla for the pack sprint finish and Padilla sailed across the line in seventh place. Salibra finished 15th, Parks was 17th and Kinnard came across in 21st.

“It is unfortunate we lost Mathew due to the crash, but his injuries aren’t too serious. Ryan adapted well and did his best being outnumbered, and it was good to see us take over the field sprint at the end. It was great teamwork all weekend and gives us a lot to look forward to this season,” Hall said.

Full results from the event may be found at http://www.floridacycling.com/results/ResultsViewer.asp.

Georgia Southern – Battle in the ‘Boro in Statesboro on February 12-13
This weekend consisted of a morning team time trial and evening criterium on day one, and then a 66-mile road race on Sunday morning. Schools competing were Georgia Southern, Florida, Clemson, Mars Hill, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida State, Furman, King College and College of Charleston.

Cumberland began the weekend by finishing fifth in the 20-kilometer team time trial. The team of Kinnard, Padilla, Parks and Sullivan posted a time of 31:28.45 behind the winning time of Florida at 29:32.29.

“We were expecting a little bit more out of the team time trial. We dropped one rider halfway through and only finished with three, and that really impacted our finishing time.”

Later that afternoon the team raced a 60-minute criterium on the campus of Georgia Southern. The tight and technical course took its toll early, as the field of 35 soon dwindled to half that size after just 25 minutes of racing. After 15 minutes of racing Padilla got into a three-man breakaway with Andy Baker of Furman and Breck Frydenborg of Florida that stayed away to the finish. Padilla ended up third, while Sullivan placed eighth, Kinnard was 13th and Salibra finished 17th.

“Alejandro made a smart, decisive move early in the race, which put Mars Hill on the defensive, and considering the technical course it made it easier for a small breakaway to stick. His fitness doesn’t have him prepared to sprint at the end of a tough, fast race, but later in the season Alejandro can win a race like this,” Hall said.

The day two road race saw Mars Hill, Florida and College of Charleston form an early three-man breakaway. Those three built up a 2:10 advantage on the field after lap 1-of-3 on the 22-mile loop. This put the Bulldogs on the defensive and having to chase, but the rolling hills and strong winds allowed the breakaway to stay away.

The field broke apart in the final 10 miles, but the team missed putting a rider in the next break of six riders. Sullivan was able to sprint to 11th while Padilla was 16th. Salibra finished 21st, Parks placed 25th and Kinnard was 26th.

“The team misjudged the early breakaway by thinking it would come back to the field. Those three leaders deserve credit for holding off a strong pack for over 50 miles. Our goal was of course to have at least one rider in the break, and next time we’ll be there or a break will not get away from us,” said Hall.

Cumberland’s next race takes place at Georgia Tech on March 12-13 in Atlanta where they will compete in two road races and a team time trial. Currently the Bulldogs are in second place in the Southeastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (SECCC) Division 2 standings for “A” points, which determine who will attend the road national championships in May in Madison, Wis.

Full results from the event may be found at https://www.usacycling.org/results/index.php?permit=2011-240. A full points breakdown, including “A” points for teams, may be found at http://collegiatecycling.org/seccc/uploads/Site/roadscoringthrugasouthern2011.xls.

“Our goal will be to hold on to second place as a team in conference in order to qualify as a team for nationals. This will allow us to have more riders starting the national championship road race and criterium. Otherwise, only individual riders will qualify and leave us with fewer riders at nationals.

“Mars Hill will hold on to first place due to their strong women’s team, but if we race up to or above our ability then we can secure second in Division 2,” Hall said.