For the second consecutive year, USA Cycling brings its Collegiate Road National Championships to the city of Madison and its surrounding areas.
The competition, which kicks off today and continues until Sunday afternoon, features nearly 100 universities and colleges, with a total of about 500 student athletes. Each year, 18 titles are at stake, and once again the UW Cycling Club looks to speed past its competitors on its home turf.
According to club president Ken Huxtable, the cycling team trails only the triathlon club for the school’s largest club sport with about 90 members. And this weekend, the team will be represented by 10 of its members – five men and five women.
But despite the benefit of riding on familiar territory, UW won’t be as advantaged as other teams. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the sport is, indeed, a club sport. For the other schools in this competition, that’s not necessarily true.
Varsity squads will also participate in the championships – squads with professional coaches and larger budgets. Teams like UW, on the other hand, are completely student-run, from coaching to budgeting and administrative duty.
A good number of those varsity teams are expected to capture some of the top spots, but nevertheless, the Badgers have defeated varsity opponents before and expect to place high in the standings.
“When it comes to final standings, I would say we’ll probably place top-15 definitely – hopefully top 10,” Huxtable said.
Being a club sport also put the team at a disadvantage for the honor of hosting the event. But what helped was the fact that the UW’s team is large, organized and has hosted the event before, in 2004 and 2010.
At first glance, the state of Wisconsin may not seem like a particularly challenging environment for competitive cycling, but Huxtable and other cycling enthusiasts know the Madison area is home to quality courses for road races.
“Madison is a mecca for cycling,” Huxtable said. “Wisconsin is notoriously flat, but our road-race courses actually are one of the hardest road-race courses that the national event has competed on in recent memory.”
In the efforts to bring the event back to Wisconsin, the team received an encouraging amount of enthusiasm from other sources, as well.
According to Huxtable, the team received great support from the city and the university in its effort to bring the championships back to Wisconsin. The team also managed to round up over 100 volunteers to help run the competition.
The championships open with road-races Friday in Blue Mounds State Park, followed by time trial events Saturday at the Trek headquarters in Waterloo and will conclude with the criterium event at the Capitol on Sunday.