The ZiaVelo Trifecta Omnium in New Mexico sustained its reputation earlier this month for being one the windiest races on the Southwest collegiate race schedule as riders battled 25 to 30 mph headwinds for three races over two days.
But the race had an unexpected visitor from a different conference – Fort Lewis College, a powerhouse of varsity collegiate cycling and a podium disruptor.
The Skyhawks dive bombed into Las Cruces and Hillsboro, N.M. and snatched up the majority of collegiate podium spots across the board.
Meanwhile, within Southwest Collegiate Cycling Conference standings, University of Arizona managed to maintain their team lead over Arizona State University by a mere 58 points, with Northern Arizona University 158 points down from ASU in third place. New Mexico State University’s Marcel Berger was the lone rider to put his school on the board, increasing his team’s season total to 167.
Current overall team standings:
UA riders Adam Bryfogle and Cara O’Neill kept the individual leader’s jerseys for men’s and women’s categories on UA’s backs.
“It was tough competition with [Fort Lewis College] in the race, but thankfully we had a great women’s team that helped us defend our lead,” said Joey Iuliano, UA Cycling Team president.
Warm temperatures welcomed riders on Saturday for the time trial and criterium, but strong winds began building as soon as the first competitor went off. FLC dominated the A categories, with professional Jelly Belly racer Cormac McGeough topping the men’s podium and Tristen Musselman on the women’s.
O’Neill and Iuliano broke through a strong field onto the podium in second and third, respectively. Victories in Men’s and Women’s B and C categories were shared equally by NAU, UA, and NMSU.
Close access to the crit course just a short walk down the road made transitioning between events easy, with time to relax and recover in between.
But winds increased dramatically by the time crit racing began, creating a vicious headwind on the back straightaway of a rectangular course.
Once again, a stacked FLC podium in the Men’s A was only cracked by Marcel Berger (NMSU) in second and O’Neill (UA) in first . Jacob Lippert (NAU) and Brianna Talbot (UA) continued their winning streak in the Bs, and ASU took men’s C.
Even stronger winds blew apart fields during Sunday’s road race in Hillsboro, which consisted of a hilly out-and-back, ending in a nine-mile climb to the finish.
FLC swept the Men’s A podium and nearly the women’s as well, but again O’Neill strong-armed her way to the top of the podium.
“It was fun to represent the conference in a win against an outside school,” O’Neill said.
FLC and NAU took Men’s and Women’s B respectively, with ASU winning Men’s C again.
After last weekend’s racing in Tucson, the collegiate teams head to New Mexico again April 7-8 for the Adoption Exchange Classic.
Find out more about the Southwest Collegiate Cycling Conference and how you can get involved: swcollegiatecycling.org