Despite three crashes last week, the UCSB cycling team took off this weekend at Irvine, placing several riders in the top finishers. Santa Barbara finished in ninth place as a team with 16 points while Stanford took top honors.
In Saturday’s men’s A individual time trial, where riders compete against the clock, senior co-captain Karl Nielsen earned 18 points for UCSB, finishing in 12th place at 27:36 – three minutes behind Cal Tech’s Peter Meinhold, who took first place honors with a time of 24:47. Although no riders were involved in a car crash that occurred Sunday, it resulted in a false start for the men’s race.
“The crash made me ride the hill twice. I went up the climb in full on race speed and I got to the top and had to do it again,” Nielsen said. “Overall it was disappointing. I raced a perfect [criterion] and came around the corner in third place, which is the best spot, and I started to sprint and my chain fell off and I finished in last place.”
Aaron Parrish was UCSB’s top finisher in the men’s B race, placing 13th at 29:15 for six points for UCSB. Overall the Gauchos earned 73 points, 155 away from first place.
“We’re a small team. To score the same amount of points as the larger teams we have to go to all the races so we’re at a disadvantage in that way so the team is getting tired and the team is sick,” Nielsen said.
On the women’s side sophomore Rachael Olsufka earned 18 points finishing in fourth place at 35:03. Saturday’s highest finisher for the Gauchos was Keith Kirkwood, who took second place in the men’s C race for 20 points in 28:33, 17 seconds behind Santa Cruz’s Steven Sperling.
Santa Barbara will compete against Sperling again in two weeks in Santa Cruz for one of the last races before Nationals. UCSB and Santa Cruz are competing against each other for a bid.
“Santa Cruz will be a series of three races over two days,” junior Barrett Ausman said. “We have a fairly strong team and we’re pretty confident heading into that weekend.”
Santa Cruz will be one of the hilliest courses this year for the Gauchos and will be the last regular season race for Santa Barbara before the conference championships, which begin April 30.