Cole second, Arensman 10th in Collegiate Road Nationals criterium

BURNSVILLE, N.C. – One year after her Division II criterium national championship, Janelle Cole rode to a second-place finish at USA Cycling Division I Collegiate Road Nationals in downtown Burnsville.

Cole trailed only Kathryn Buss of Virginia Tech and rode alone for much of the final third of the race as Buss extended her lead. Near the midway point, however, a two-rider breakaway materialized through Cole’s strategy to separate herself and Buss from the next nine riders.

“I tried quite a few attacks,” said Cole. “I was trying to soften up the field a little bit, and I was really hoping she would take advantage of it. From yesterday, I knew she was the strongest climber among us. She made the attack and came by me and was like, 'Let’s go!' I said, 'All right, I’ll work if you will!' "

“With about three laps to go I knew it was over,” she continued. “She was riding through the corners very smoothly. And she’s obviously a great climber. At that point I laid down the last little bit I had and it wasn’t enough. But I’m very excited about my performance and am thrilled that the race took everything I had. It was a phenomenal race and I am absolutely in awe of Kate. She’s incredible.”

Cole crossed the line roughly half a lap behind Buss after the Hokie came within seconds of lapping the riders finishing in positions three through 11.

The course was laid out on a 0.9-mile closed loop through downtown Burnsville that roughly resembled a right triangle. Riders began just north of the town square, negotiated four turns in quick succession around the grassy square containing the town’s Otway Burns statue, then began a steep descent before a hairpin left-hand turn. After a long straightaway and another tight corner, the riders ascended a hill as they approached the line to begin another lap.

“The course was similar to last year, but it was a little more of a true crit,” said 10th-place finisher Allison Arensman, who made Brevard one of three schools to place two riders inside the top 10. “It was a little more gradual, except for the final descent into the uphill portion. I really enjoyed it. It played to my strengths because it’s technical and then just a big power grind on the back side. I really like that.”

Cole and Arensman worked together for much of the race, shooting to the front of the field in the opening laps to avoid potential crashes. The duo then began probing the field through periodic attacks, ascertaining which riders were strong enough to stay in the lead pack. When Arensman saw that Cole was ready to break free from the rest of the leaders, she took a wide angle through the hairpin turn to open the door for her teammate to begin building a gap.

“I was feeling awful so I needed to make something happen,” Arensman explained. “We didn’t need a team like Marian, who’s got three or four girls in this pack, to lead out a sprint to the end or start counterattacking; we needed to hit them then when they were all tired and hit them again in the technical section. It worked really well as far as just getting Janelle off the front and helping out there, because otherwise it may have been very different coming down to a bigger field sprint.”

“It’s always a little bit of a cat-and-mouse tactics game,” head coach Brad Perley stated, “and a lot of variables come in to play toward the end of the race when it is a one-on-one situation. But Kathryn Buss is certainly a monster. She rode a very, very good race, as did Janelle. Allison did a great job as well to maintain her position in that chase group. Just finishing toward the front of a race like that is quite the feat. To jump into a Division I competition and be that active and visible at the front of the race speaks volumes to the work that they’ve done and the preparation we’ve put in as a team for this weekend.”

Perley was also complimentary of the effort Nicole Miranda showed to finish 34th in an exceptional field of 60 Division I riders. “Nicole had probably the best road race I’ve ever seen her have. She hung in there. Most of the race had already been pulled by one point and she was still hanging in there. That was her last collegiate race. So she finished off with a bang, for sure.”

After finishing the team’s first season in the Division I ranks, Perley stated that his goal is for the Tornados to contend for the team omnium title next season. Cole is confident that Brevard will continue improving as they adjust to the Division I level.

“Clearly, we have a pretty strong program. I think it’s going to continue to produce really, really excellent results, especially in the coming seasons.”

Video highlights:

Full results:

Cole leads the field midway through the race

Cole gives chase to Virginia Tech's Kathryn Buss in the final laps

Arensman fights through the pack

Miranda looks for an opening

Additional Quotes
Cole, on what makes Brevard successful:
“Clearly we have a pretty strong program. I’ve been lucky enough to take advantage of our coaching. Brad and Brian have been phenomenal. The area that we have to ride around Brevard is just unparalleled. You can do any kind of training you want. Clearly we can do hills, we can do intervals, whatever. The program is solid and I think it’s going to continue to produce really, really excellent results, especially in the coming seasons."

Cole, on her personal goals:
“I would love to improve upon this year’s performance. I want the top step. Everyone does. That’s what’s great about collegiate cycling. You get these girls out here and everyone wants it so bad and it makes for great racing. But next season, definitely looking forward to giving it another shot."

Arensman, on the team’s tactics:
“Janelle and I started and our goal was to get to the front in case there were any pileups in one of the corners down there that’s almost a 180. It’s super sketchy. So we got on the front for a little bit and then we just kind of sat up and looked around. We started a couple of attacks just to see how the field was feeling and how legs were feeling. I was feeling terrible, but I saw that Janelle was riding strong. She attacked a couple of times. She was starting to stay away. So on the 180, I took it wide and gave her a bit of a gap. No one chased, which gave her more of a gap, and she held it while everyone just looked at each other, which was perfect. The one Virginia Tech girl bridged up to her. That was the goal was to get someone off the front.”

Arensman, on the strength of the program:
“I think it just shows off how dedicated our riders are and how strong we are mentally and how willing we are to accept a challenge, no matter what it is, and not get it in our heads that this is D1 and we’re going to get killed out there. We know we’re going to ‘bring the noise.’ I think it really reflects on the coaching we have. We have some incredible coaches here, and without their support and mentorship we wouldn’t be here."

Arensman, on the differences in Divisions I and II:
“It’s just a deeper field. In D2 we had some really good girls who would light it up with us. Here we have the same, but three times the amount basically, and they’re all at that level. So it makes it a little different as far as following tactics and changing that up. So depth. And hopefully we can get some more depth to our team, because once we do, there’s no stopping us."

Perley, on his pride in his team:
“We’re really impressed and extremely proud of the way they raced. Things really worked out well for the team overall. Things went to plan. We had Janelle and Allison both being really active at the front. They were attentive, and when the winning move happened to split the field, both of them were able to go. Janelle was in the lead group and Allison was in the chase group, so she was taking a back seat a little bit while Janelle went up to the front. She was able to keep an eye on the rest of the field. I’m really happy with the way it turned out in the end."

Perley, on how tactics are determined:
“We talk a lot before and after the races and we try to give them as much information as we can during. We had a pretty set plan going into it today. The first goal for all three of our girls was to get toward the front of the race as quickly as possible, which is a lot easier said than done because everyone wants to do that. We talked about some specific ways they could actually execute that, and that went according to plan. They stayed out of trouble on the first couple of corners in the initial craziness of the race. They were able to avoid all that and set themselves up to succeed toward the end of the race. During the race, it really comes down to the athletes, their decisions, and their ability to read the race. Fortunately, they’ve all learned a lot and we’ve been able to talk about a lot of different scenarios and play out a lot of different virtual scenarios talking and debriefing after races and all that. It comes down to their decision, but there’s kind of a Plan A, Plan B, and so forth. They were pretty much able to stick to that. It worked out really well. It’s easy to point out a couple of things that could always go better, but for the most part it definitely went to plan."

Perley, on the team’s goals for next season:
“Next year, the first goal that comes to mind is that we want to come back and compete for the team omnium, which we’re not doing this year, but we’ll have some numbers next year to make that a real possibility. So that’s definitely the biggest goal. Unfortunately, Nicole, Allison, Spencer, and Josh are all going to be gone by the spring semester next year, but coming back we’re going to be looking to retain that spot right toward the top, hopefully maybe even be fighting again for the very top spot for a couple of those podiums, and for the team omnium as well. It’s pretty clear, even from the students, that even a year away they’re ready to look forward to that and go after it."

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