Cycling test draws rave reviews in Richmond
RICHMOND, Va. -- Brian Dziewa broke away from a small group on the last uphill climb and won the Division II college road race national championship Sunday, letting out several loud roars after crossing the finish line.
The USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championship was likely the final high-end competitive race for the 31-year-old law student, who will graduate next week, and the celebration seemed fitting.
"(I'm) going out with a roar, so I wanted to roar," said Dziewa, who raced for Saint Louis.
His gleeful screams could have been coming from the race organizers, too.
The city hosted the collegiate championships from Friday to Sunday as a test event before the exponentially larger world championships arrive in September 2015, and the reviews were positive.
"By all accounts, the event was a great success," said Lee Kallman, spokesman for Richmond 2015. "The competition was great, the feedback we got on the courses from the athletes was fantastic."
Even concern about closing off streets in the center of the city, especially on a work day, led to few issues and complaints as the city seemed, instead, to embrace the festival atmosphere. Thousands lined the scenic course on Sunday, soaking up the sunshine and cheering on the riders by ringing cow bells.
"Richmond's been great," Dziewa said, noting that in some cities when a race necessitated street closings, residents protested. "That time trial we did was the coolest time trial I've ever done."
After Sunday's race, the racers' continued with their high marks.
"The best crowds I've ever seen at a collegiate championships," said Brad Neagos of the University of Denver after finishing second in the Division II road race, a stunning 15 seconds behind Dziewa.
The three-day event could hardly have started better for Richmond 2015 as Virginia Commonwealth's Chrstopher Jones won Friday's time trial in the Division I class. Dziewa was third in Division II.
The women's weekend star was Coryn Rivera, 21, of Marian University. Her team won the Division I women's team time trial on Friday, and she won the criterium on Saturday and the road race on Sunday.
Racing since she was 12, Rivera has now won 57 national championships, and she termed the atmosphere at Libby Hill, where the green hills surrounding the course were filled with picnicking families and race observers on Sunday as the racers climbed a steep, narrow, cobblestone course, "amazing."
Alan Neenan came from Ireland to check it out, and will go home impressed, too.
"This is an event to be proud of here, and it's a great city for it too," said Neenan, who handles travel arrangements for Cycling Ireland and came this weekend to scout it out for the Irish team.
He said the course is more technical than built for sprinters or climbers, but that the several steep inclines, while not individually difficult for professional riders, will eventually take a toll.
The plan is for the racers to start 60 miles away, then make 10 laps on the city course.
"It will be grueling at least," he said. "It's going to be a tough, tough race."
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Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press
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