Cycling team opens road season this weekend

BREVARD, N.C. – Fresh off its second national championship of the competition season, the Brevard College cycling team will look to win its first-ever road national title as the season kicks off on Saturday at the River Falls Road Race in Greenville, South Carolina.


The Tornados began the season by winning a third consecutive mountain bike national title in nearby Beech Mountain, turning in a dominant performance that saw eight individual national championships won by Tornado cyclists and an additional victory in the team relay. Last month, the team traveled to Austin, Texas and overcame sloppy course conditions to win a third straight cyclocross title.


But as the road season approaches, the Tornados can set their sights on something they have yet to accomplish: winning a road national title. The decorated program has found success in the road racing season to be elusive, with the team never earning a top-20 finish until a breakthrough performance vaulted the Tornados into third place in Ogden, Utah two years ago.


Brevard had high expectations going into last year’s championships in Richmond, Virginia, but a crash early in the competition left three riders battered and bruised. The team rebounded well, earning women’s titles in the road race and individual omnium and a second-place finish in the men’s team omnium on the way to an overall second-place performance.


This year, however, the national championship event will take place in Asheville May 8-10, giving the Tornados a unique sense of a home-field advantage rarely enjoyed in cycling. The team will be able to ride on the courses used for the national championships, allowing riders to train specifically for the terrain the course offers. The team hopes that its dominant individual performances and collaborative teamwork enjoyed during the mountain bike and cyclocross seasons can carry over into a third national title in May.


The Tornados plan to use 16 riders in the road racing season, headlined by Nick Jowsey and Allison Arensman. “I look forward to enjoying the races, the team camaraderie, the opportunity to help those less experienced than myself, and to race seriously, with hunger and class,” said Jowsey, who took home a conference title a season ago.


Arensman, who has already captured three individual national titles this season, was part of two title-winning relay teams, and won a road and an omnium championship in Richmond last season, hopes to add a team title to her impressive list of accomplishments.


“I’m excited to see how the addition of several strong riders to the women’s team plays out in the road season. We gelled really well at cyclocross nationals and I see great potential in our ability to bring a real race to the collegiate women’s peloton,” Arensman said.


The most significant addition to this year’s team has been Janelle Cole, who signed with Brevard during the fall semester and had an impactful performance in Austin last month at Brevard’s cyclocross win. Cole’s presence, along with the significant experience gained through improvements in the last two seasons, have given the Tornados hope for another strong finish when the season draws to a close in May.


“I’d love to defend my road title from last year,” Arensman said. “But honestly, I’ve got strong and experienced teammates toeing the line this year, and as long as Brevard gets across that line first, that’s all that matters.”


Brevard begins its season Saturday in Greenville before races hosted by Clemson University, the University of Georgia, and Milligan College over the next six weeks. Georgia Tech will host the conference championships April 17 and 18 in Brevard’s final tune-up before Collegiate Road Nationals May 8-10 in Asheville. (Maps of the championship course are available here)


Fans can follow along with Brevard College Cycling through the team’s Facebook and Twitter pages in addition to www.bctornados.com.

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