Mason Cycling Delivers in the ACCC Championship
Posted: May 7, 2014 at 2:38 pm, Last Updated: May 7, 2014 at 2:40 pm
Mason Cycling fielded its largest team ever on Saturday, April 26th, by sending a seven rider team to the ACCC Championship Road Race, hosted by the United State Naval Academy (NAVY) at Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia. Mason’s Division One collegiate team consisted of three riders in CAT-D (Chris Belin, Zachary Price, and Kyle Bondo), one rider in CAT-C (Michael Levesque), and two riders in CAT-A (Dave Fuentes and Steven Kendall).
The Men’s CAT-C race (with 31 riders) started off the event with lone Patriot Michael Levesque in the mix. Levesque held with the pack for five brutal, 7-mile laps until just two miles from the finish when a rider went down in the middle of the group as they all surged forward on a final hill. The crash cut the field in half resulting in a big finish for those forward of the crash. Fortunately, Levesque managed to recover quickly from the wreck and press forward to take 29th Place.
Next to race was the Men’s CAT-D pack of 16 riders which got off to a shaky start. Just 5-miles into the race saw Kyle Bondo collide with a rider from WVU as they transitioned into the first lap. Both riders recovered without injury, but Bondo was quickly left behind by the pack, setting the stage for Chris Belin and Zachary Price to lead the Mason Team through four 7-mile loops. At the finish, it was Chris Belin with a last minute surge that had him rocket across the finish line in 5th Place, Zachary Price finished close behind in 12th Place, and Kyle Bondo (with a bent front tire) completed the course coming in a respectful 15th Place finish. It was a great finish to the very first — and last — collegiate race for both Zachary Price and Kyle Bondo who graduate from GMU in May 2014.
The Men’s CAT-A race (with 34 Riders) was a nail-bitter until lap 3 when two riders (VCU and ASU) broke free from the pack and took a commanding two-minute lead. Two laps later, another 3-man group broke free and managed to put another two minutes between themselves and the main pack. However, at the finish, after the five break-a-way riders crossed the finish line, it was the pack that surged into a photo finish that found Steven Kendall taking 9th Place and Dave Fuentes dropping back to take 26th Place.
Sunday proved that bike racing is a fickle sport. Mason fielded only a three (3) rider team that included Michael Levesque (CAT-C), Steven Kendall (CAT-A), and Dave Fuentes (CAT-A). Unlike their middle- and back-of-the-pack finishes during the road race, Sunday’s US Naval Academy hosted Melford Circuit Race, a shorter and faster race, would be the event that all other Mason Cycling road events would be compared to for years to come.
The day first began with Michael Levesque in CAT-C race. He again rode shoulder-to-shoulder with a monster pack of 30 other riders for almost thirty long minutes before an all-out sprint to the finish spread the group apart. Levesque sprinted hard to the finish and had his efforts pay off with a fantastic 20th Place finish; much improved from the road race standings just a day before.
Meanwhile, it was Dave Fuentes and Steve Kendall’s turn to show how much speed they had left after the previous day’s road race. Any disappointment either one of them may have had about their road race standings was replaced by a historic surge during the final stage of the circuit race. Working as a team, Steven Kendall blazed a path for Fuentes in the final straightway, allowing Fuentes to snatch a photo finish 1st Place — a Mason Cycling first — with just a bike length separating him from 2nd through 5th Place! Kendall, still with some energy left, managed to power through to 7th place, rounding out the top 10 with Mason Cycling on top! Both Fuentes and Kendall where essential in making the first Mason Cycling Statement to both the ACCC and USA Cycling community: Mason Cycling has arrived!
When the dust cleared from the ACCC Championship event, the final results provided George Mason Cycling Club with enough points to qualify not ONE, but TWO riders for the CapTech USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships in Richmond, Virginia on May 2-4, 2014! Dave Fuentes will try to repeat his circuit race performance in the Collegiate Championship Criterium Male D1 race at 3:30pm on Saturday, May 3rd. While, Steven Kendall will attempt to break the top 10 again in the Collegiate Championship Road Race Male D1 race — the final event of the weekend — at 4:20pm on Sunday, May 4th.
Overall, it has been a great year for Mason Cycling! Three years in the making, it took only the past 3-months to for Mason to come out of nowhere and see riders on the ACCC podium for the first time ever; and this was just Road Cycling season! Mason Riders have yet to tackle mountain bike and cyclocross racing seasons that will start in Fall 2014.
The final standings for Mason’s first year include earning enough points to take 12th Place (12/16) in the ACCC 2014 National Qualification Standings overall. Earning 206 total points for the season after only racing in three (3) out of seven (7) events (W&M, VT, and NAVY).
As we close out Mason Cycling’s first school year as a collegiate club sport, the 11 members of the George Mason Cycling Club can look back with pride and sanctification that they have created a team that has exceeded everyone’s expectations.
Great job Patriots!