Tornados place second at USA Cycling Collegiate Road Nationals

MARSHALL, N.C. – For the second consecutive year, the Brevard College cycling team ends its season with a runner-up finish at the USA Cycling Collegiate Road Nationals.


The Tornados wrapped up the weekend with a fourth-place performance by the quartet of Janelle Cole, Allison Arensman, Sarah Hill, and Nicole Miranda in the team time trial event on a 12.4-mile course that ran parallel to the French Broad River. Brevard won the women’s criterium on Saturday and placed second in the women’s road race on Friday. The Tornados compiled the second-highest team score of the 39 Division II teams competing.


Milligan College won the event with a team score of 474, besting the Tornados by 64 points. Colorado Mesa was third, while Mars Hill and Furman gave the Southeastern Collegiate Cycling Conference four of the top five teams in the event.


“It’s pretty fantastic to come here to a national championship event that’s essentially a home race for us and to see the way the team raced,” said head coach Brad Perley. “There’s certainly no individual here right now that has anything left in the gas tank. They left it all out there. And that’s certainly a victory in my book.”


The highlight of the weekend came on Saturday, when Cole made a last-lap pass on the grueling, hilly criterium course through downtown Asheville to inch ahead of Milligan’s Lauretta Hanson on the final uphill sprint for a dramatic victory and her first individual national championship. Allison Arensman sprinted past Furman’s Danielle Clark moments later to give Brevard two top-five finishers.


“It worked out to set Janelle up for that break,” Arensman commented on Sunday. “I definitely could have played tactics a lot better than I did…but setting Janelle up for that break and getting to hear that she’d won, I couldn’t have been happier.”


“In an uphill match sprint like that,” Cole added, “I’ve been able to come out ahead of [Milligan’s Lauretta Hansen] before. So I thought, ‘You know what, I just want to come across this line completely dead, and the only way that’s going to happen is to come from the bottom. That’s my best shot’… It was amazing. There’s really no other way to put it.”


Cole finished second in the individual omnium, which compiles scores from all events during the weekend to determine the top individual rider. Arensman finished close behind in fourth place.


While Cole and Arensman stole Saturday’s headlines, the gutsiest performance of the weekend belonged to Nick Jowsey. Competing on tired legs after a professional race last weekend, Jowsey earned the fourth position in the men’s individual omnium after finishing second in Friday’s 73.5-mile road race and overcoming a broken shifter cable and last-lap flat tire to place ninth in Saturday’s criterium. He also teamed with Zach Valdez and Wyatt Briggs in Sunday's team time trial.


“I’m particularly proud of the guys in the team time trial today,” Jowsey said. “Every other team had four guys and we only had three, and we still set an extremely competitive time just through real guts and determination. We’ve got a lot of tough riders with a strong work ethic.”


Brevard finishes the road portion of its schedule in second place after winning the mountain bike and cyclocross national championships earlier in the season. The Tornados have now won two national titles in each of the last three seasons and have eight total championships dating back to its 2009 mountain bike title.


Quotes following Sunday's team time trial

Head coach Brad Perley on finishing the season with two national championships and a runner-up
“I’m thrilled. It’s pretty fantastic to come here to a national championship event that’s essentially a home race for us and to see the way the team raced. Every single student, both the ones that were racing on the course for us and those that were here to support, and the entire coaching staff as well, are just extremely proud and happy of the way the team represented the school and themselves. There’s certainly no individual here right now that has anything left in the gas tank. They left it all out there. And that’s certainly a victory in my book.


Perley on whether second is Brevard’s ceiling at Road Nationals
“With the students we have here, I would never place any limits on their potential. They continue to surprise me every single weekend of racing. Coming into this road season in general, we knew it was going to be tougher because we don’t quite have the numbers and we’re still building on that. So yes, to come in here and to get second…I’m certainly not surprised because I know what each of our students are capable of. But to see it follow through and happen and finish…a lot of the students at the start of the road season this year wouldn’t have seen us getting this high on the podium at nationals. So we’re definitely extremely happy and proud of them.


Assistant coach Brandon Milet on the team’s accomplishment
“I’m extremely happy and very proud of the whole team. They work so hard together all year, and the camaraderie and teamwork is just so tight. Even off the bikes, they’re so close. They’re friends on and off the bike. They all live together. So it makes it more enjoyable to coach and it’s nice to see them win. And even if they don’t win they’re still so excited and bring each other up when they’re down. They’re always going forward. It’s great.


Milet on the advantages of racing close to home
“It was awesome. It was a huge advantage considering we were able to come here. Brad and I were able to follow them and we brought them to the course and walked them through it. They got to ride it, see all the hills, everything that’s upcoming. And they’re used to this, used to the heat. This heat was way hotter than it’s been, obviously, but they were able to just drive through it and they knew that every spot counted and they sprinted everywhere they could. It was great.


Milet on having Brevard faculty and staff attend the races
“[The team members] get so excited every time. When I was a student and saw [President] Dr. [David C.] Joyce out there it was like seeing celebrities because the president of the school you represent is out there. As BC it’s such a small school and we’re so proud to represent the school, and so to see faculty and staff out there makes it that much better.


Janelle Cole on her excitement at winning on Saturday
“It was amazing. There’s really no other way to put it. It was incredible to win for the team and to just have that energy there. The teamwork worked out. It was awesome.


Cole on whether she thought winning a title was possible so early in her career
“I always hold myself to the highest possible standard. I think everyone is capable of winning with the right training and mindset. So I went in with that attitude.


Cole on her final lap strategy during Saturday’s win
“Our plan was to eventually get a breakaway, which happened, and then Allison would bridge up so we would be together. I was trying to conserve most of the race and keep it at a decent pace, but it became apparent that the bridge wasn’t going to happen, so that’s when I kind of jumped into it. That last lap, I decided that I wanted to lead out of the turn, so I led for all of the downhill and just hit it as hard as I could coming out of the corner.


Cole on why she wanted to lead through the last corner
“I knew that [Milligan’s] Lauretta [Hanson] had an incredible jump and I knew that I could match her that day. In a match sprint like that uphill I’ve been able to come out ahead of her before. So I thought, ‘You know what, I just want to come across this line completely dead, and the only way that’s going to happen is to come from the bottom. That’s my best shot.’


Allison Arensman on the team’s accomplishment
“I’m really stoked for the team. I know they put everything they had into it. There was a lot of heart out there today and it was awesome to be a part of it. Second is solid, and it was good to do that again and look to next year and capitalize on it.


Arensman on whether the team is proud, hungry for more, or both
“Yeah, I mean, I’m always proud of the team. I know they always give 110%. That’s why I love being part of Brevard. But of course, if it’s not first, you’re always hungry for more. This definitely puts fuel in our bellies to go after it next year and hopefully get that win that we’ve wanted.


Arensman on which individual performance she’s most proud of
“I would say probably the crit because it worked out to set Janelle up for that break. I definitely could have played tactics a lot better than I did. It’s always learning. Road racing is a very tactical sport. It doesn’t always go to the person who’s the strongest out there. But the crit yesterday, setting Janelle up for that break and getting to hear that she’d won, I couldn’t have been happier.


Arensman on Saturday’s grueling course
It was more of a circuit race than a crit because it was a lot of climbing and then a short descent that wasn’t too technical. So it was kind of frustrating. I felt frustrated for those people who were out there who wanted a crit. But I mean, good grief, it just tore my heart out every time I had to climb that hill. I was like, ‘Really? What is this?’ It was hard. And it shows you how difficult it was that by the third lap we had a group of six without really even much tacking going. So yeah, it was a hard race.


Nick Jowsey on Saturday’s mechanical issues
“As I was coming around the final corner, there were probably about 300 meters to the finish line, all uphill. As I turned the corner I heard a sound that I realized was all the air rushing out of my tire. So I was riding on the rim, and of course that means that a few guys could pass me and take a few spots ahead of me. But during the race I actually broke a shifter cable, which means I could only ride in some very easy gears and had to spin my legs really fast. That takes a toll on you in the race when you can’t get into those bigger gears on the descent and you get tailed off. That was probably the harder thing. So rolling across the line I was on a broken bike.


Jowsey on his personal performance
“I’m really stoked. I think I had a very very hard event at a UCI pro race in Mexico the week before. That was a whole week long and I was very, very fatigued coming in. I didn’t know if I’d stressed my body out too much to do well, but it turns out that it gave me some good form and I was a bit tired but I got through it.


Jowsey on the team’s accomplishment
“I’m very proud. The team rode incredibly. I think after last year on the men’s side we had three of our top A riders graduate, and we thought there was going to be a big hole left. The women’s team is still extremely strong but you really need both sides to be strong to win. So we pulled through very, very well. I’m particularly proud of the guys in the team time trial today. Every other team had four guys and we only had three, and we still set an extremely competitive time just through real guts and determination. We’ve got a lot of tough riders with a strong work ethic.

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