Western collegiate teams ready to face off for first race weekend

The Western Collegiate Cycling Conference kicks off its first weekend of racing Saturday with a road race hosted by UCLA and a crit on Sunday hosted by USC.

Teams from across the state are ready to not only do well on the local level, but prepare several riders for nationals while also welcoming new members.

“At the first collegiate weekend we at Santa Cruz are looking to let the conference know that they will have to put up a fight to beat us,” said Sam Anderson-Moxley, from University of California – Santa Cruz.

Clipped In talked to several teams about their outlook for the season and what they expect in the first weekend of racing:

Kat Ellis, UCSD Cycling

CI: What’s new for your club this year and how do you think that will affect your team in races?

This is the first year we’ve competed in cyclocross and gl-5-tritonmountain bike races as a collegiate team, and it’s been a fun bonding experience for the team. We hope the excitement carries over to road season!

CI: What do you think of your conference race calendar and how will it affect your team’s overall performance?

We like the organization with races being grouped in three-week chunks, but as always, we will suffer by being on the geographic edge of the conference, as it’s unrealistic to expect all our members to travel to the [northern California] races. But we are excited that conference is (relatively) close this year in Santa Barbara.

CI: What are your goals for this season?

We’re looking to improve our conference ranking this year, have a strong showing at nationals, have fun and redeem our second place in the TTT at [nationals].

UCSD

WCCC and their Southwest Collegiate Cycling Conference counterparts face off in a dual conference race weekend last year.

CI: What is your team looking to do at its first collegiate weekend? Could you let us in on some race-day strategies?

We’re looking to introduce the newbies to the world of bike racing and give the returners a chance to check their fitness.

CI: Who are the top athletes on your team (men and women) to watch out for?

On the women’s side, Esther Walker, Kat Ellis and Matea Djovik are returning from the nationals squad and will be a strong core to the team.

On the men’s side, Eric Geier will be a sprinting force to look out for.

On both sides we have a bunch of new talent that we’re very excited about.

UCSD Esther

Esther Walker (right) propels teammate Deanna Ratnikova during a Madison race at the San Diego Velodrome.

CI: Do you have some experienced riders on your team who are worth noting or perhaps some experiences in the recent past that you think will give your riders an advantage?

Esther Walker is coming off a summer of racing fixie crits and winning the elite national championship in the Madison. We’ve also got a lot of team members racing for domestic teams as well as collegiate, which we think is great for getting experience.

Sam Anderson-Moxley, University of California – Santa Cruz:

CI: What’s new for your club this year and how do you think that will affect your team in races?

This year we will have more people on our team than ever and slug_logothe talent pool is only getting deeper. This year we will see the rise of many promising young collegiate cyclists on the team.

CI: What do you think of your conference race calendar and how will it affect your team’s overall performance?

This year our home race is at the start of the season so as a team we may not be in prime form yet. However, I am certain that there will be displays of dominance at that race and the rest of the season. I am particularly happy with the weekends off every month to give racers time to recover and catch up on school work.

CI: What are your goals for this season?

UCSC has not had a strong road team in many years. This year we plan to turn that around and be competitive for the omnium in addition to sending our most talented riders to race and hopefully win collegiate national championships.

UCSC

CI: What is your team looking to do at its first collegiate weekend? Could you let us in on some race-day strategies?

At the first collegiate weekend we at Santa Cruz are looking to let the conference know that they will have to put up a fight to beat us. We aren’t three-time mountain bike champions for nothing.

CI: Who are the top athletes on your team (men and women) to watch out for?

Sandy Floren, [who is] only a freshman, is showing some impressive form this time of year and is now one of the top climbers in the Santa Cruz area. We have high hopes for Martin Genova and Sam Weinstein, also freshman who have been putting in work and excited to try their hand at road racing. Libby Caldwell is quickly recovering from injury and she is certainly capable of winning the WCCC omnium. Sam Anderson-Moxley is bound to stir things up this year. After just six weeks of training, he has put nearly 2,000 miles under his belt. However, his chances of winning WCCC omnium will be small considering he will miss some collegiate race weekends to race Pro XCTs.

CI: Do you have some experienced riders on your team who are worth noting or perhaps some experiences in the recent past that you think will give your riders an advantage?

Both Sam Anderson-Moxley and Sandy Floren will be racing Pro Cross Country this year in addition to collegiate road racing. Their form will certainly carry over and give them the advantage when the races get tough. 

Cal State Fullerton Cycling:

CI: What’s new for your club this year and how do you think that will affect your team in races?

Some of our team members have gotten coaches. Our team as adownload whole is now receiving virtual coaching from Pear Sports (our key sponsor). Some of us have been racing in Cat 4 and doing well enough to consider racing in Cat B collegiate.

CI: What do you think of your conference race calendar and how will it affect your team’s overall performance?

There are a lot of race weekends back to back. This is going to hurt some of the guys with more rigorous course loads, like our guys in engineering.

CI: What are your goals for this season?

We ultimately want to dominate Cat C and D. But we want to have enough people in each field to develop strategies.

CI: What is your team looking to do at its first collegiate weekend? Could you let us in on some race-day strategies?

Our strategy for the first weekend is to determine who needs to move from Cat Ds to Cs. Our guys to watch for will be Christian “The Latin Climbing Wonder” Cabral, Nate “Natidor” Torres and Ricky Livingston (he’s just a sprinter).

CI: Who are the top athletes on your team (men and women) to watch out for?

A few guys have done well over the post season races, Nate, Christian, Ricky, and Andres Shen. Three of us mentioned on Q5 have begun riding with UC Irvine’s team during their training rides coached by Dave Jordan of CyberCycleCoach.com

CI: Anything to add?

Go Titans!

California State University – Long Beach

CI: What’s new for your club this year and how do you think that will affect your team in races?

Our club this year consists of a number of individuals with displaymediadiverse racing backgrounds. Whether having taken hairpin curves in a fixed gear criterium or jumping hurdles in cyclocross, our team has competed in nearly every style of competitive cycling within reach. I feel that the collaboration of various racing disciplines will form a well-rounded team for this season.

CI: What do you think of your conference race calendar and how will it affect your team’s overall performance?

The race calendar consists of many races in northern California which makes for a long period of traveling the day before a race with very little time to settle in. This takes a physical toll on our riders and makes it hard for them to be at their best the next day.

The strain our team faces from traveling across the state is not foreign to the likes of teams from northern California that travel south for races. Since California is so vast, the exhaustion of traveling long distances is shared with everyone in the conference.

Cal State LB

CI: What are your goals for this season?

Our goals for this season are to emphasize to our local community that cycling is something everyone can be involved with. We welcome riders of all skill levels, encourage those that intend to race, and inspire others ride their bicycles more often. Also, to win.

CI: What is your team looking to do at its first collegiate weekend? Could you let us in on some race-day strategies?

First collegiate weekends are always exciting. We like to make our presence known as being a small but solid team with strong riders, although taking podiums aren’t bad either!

CI: Who are the top athletes on your team (men and women) to watch out for?

One of our new recruits, Liya Klingenberg has taken up the local criterium scene by storm. Having taken second and third place consistently in local fixed-gear criteriums (ie: Strong Beach) as well as third in the King/Queen of Turnbull challenge. It makes her one of our heavy-hitting contenders.

CI: Do you have some experienced riders on your team who are worth noting or perhaps some experiences in the recent past that you think will give your riders an advantage?

David Ayala has been a strong member of our team for several years. During last year’s collegiate race at Santa Barbara, David won the Men’s C category.

Only a few months later he also won the SoCal Cross series collegiate category for this year. David has an advantage this season by attaining the status of a seasoned veteran that knows how to win.

CI: Anything to add?

Our team roster might be small, but our band of racers makes up size with passion. We are not an exclusionary team that only selects the best from the best. Rather we encourage those who want to race the mindset and mentality to improve upon themselves.

Megan Bradley, Vice President Cal Cycling:
CI: What’s new for your club this year and how do you think that will affect your team in races?

This year we are going to be working hard to recruit new calriders, have more team members involved in team activities and develop consistent riding schedules (it is very difficult to coordinate people’s schedules in college but we all prefer to ride with someone!)

CI: What do you think of your conference race calendar and how will it affect your team’s overall performance?

The race calendar is similar to years past with several consistent race weekends in a row and some off. Specifically, I believe that our home race in Berkeley, being the weekend after spring break, should give us a good advantage with time to relax and train without the extra stress from school.

CI: What are your goals for this season?

We are always trying to recruit more Cal cyclists, and this year we are aiming our goals for the women’s team to expand as we find and train new racers. I’ve talked to some women on the team and we would love to have female Cal cyclists represent at nationals. The men’s team has gone to nationals in the past and they of course have a goal to get there too.

CI: Who are the top athletes on your team (men and women) to watch out for?

We have several top athletes from both disciplines:

Road: Men are Alex Freund, Reese Levine, Daniel Reitz. Women are Arielle Little, Linnea Nierenberg.

Mountain: Men are Jason Tang, Sebastian Ospina. Women are Megan Bradley, Qris Vu.

Since this is based off of last season’s results, I think for this season everyone has fair game to be watched out for as we train very hard, but in particular our Men’s A team are all experienced road racers. Our women’s team is working to achieve top spots this year in the A and B categories.

CI: Do you have some experienced riders on your team who are worth noting or perhaps some experiences in the recent past that you think will give your riders an advantage?

Alex Freund and Reese Levine were two of the top Men A racers last year. They have been out doing plenty of training rides and are very strong. Arielle Little has been riding with friends she has met at other races and uses those rides not only to train but learn more tactical racing strategies. Most of our racers are both mountain and road bike, which I believe gives an enormous advantage in all aspects of skill and endurance. I myself race with Arielle during mountain bike season and find that that training is helpful on the road bike. I am a more experienced mountain bike racer and earned the top spot on the omnium for the mountain bike season. When I ride my road bike now I feel extremely prepared to convert those muscles into road bike muscles.

Miles G. Frank, St. Mary’s Club Cycling President:

CI: What’s new for your club this year and how do you think that will affect your team in races?

Better support from sponsors and more involvement in the st marysteam, both in more participation and recognition from the school, etc. We also have a few women who are racing which should help us in the D2 omnium competition.

CI: What do you think of your conference race calendar and how will it affect your team’s overall performance?

We love it! California is a great place to race bikes, and even though the state is so big all of the races and venues are great college towns and have really special stuff to offer. Specifically, I think our championships in Santa Barbara will suit our team since we have more flatlanders and sprinters rather than climbers.

CI: What are your goals for this season?

Personally, to do a top five in Men’s A omnium, which means going to every race and being consistent in crits and road races. For the team overall, to represent our sponsors well, learn more tactics for the newbies and hopefully get stronger and have fun!

CI: What is your team looking to do at its first collegiate weekend? Could you let us in on some race-day strategies?

We have some new racers, but I think for everyone we just need to test our legs and fitness levels to make sure our training has been going well. As far as tactics go, I think in collegiate it’s really important to have alliances since a lot of teams don’t have huge numbers and try and attack and be as aggressive as possible.

CI: Who are the top athletes on your team (men and women) to watch out for?

We have a former D1 XC runner, Juli Jugan who has just started cycling, but I’m sure she’ll advance fast! Otherwise, for myself, this is my second year in As and I’m hoping to keep my sprinting up but to get better at climbing and all around racing.

St. Mary's

St. Mary’s College cycling club president Miles Frank pops a wheelie.

CI: Do you have some experienced riders on your team who are worth noting or perhaps some experiences in the recent past that you think will give your riders an advantage?

I’ve been racing for 6 years, and additionally, we have former pro Kirk Carlsen Jr. who has experience racing all around the world and is extremely wise on training and tactics, and he’s a student and involved in club cycling which we’re extremely lucky.

CI: Anything to add?
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