Collegiate cyclists from around the country converged in Rock Hill last week for the USA Cycling Collegiate Track National Championships at Rock Hill’s Velodrome, and convened Saturday in pursuit of championship titles.
More than 20 men’s and women’s cycling teams sat under shady tents and behind fans while teammates flew across the 250-meter, 42 1/2 degree bank track, accumulating points, scratch racing and match sprinting.
The races started Thursday with some familiar faces to the collegiate cycling circuit as returning champions mounted the podium for additional titles. For others, this was a year of firsts.
For the first time in the school’s 140-year history, Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C., brought its new men’s cycling team to the championships, where several of the 8-member men’s team brought titles back to the Catholic college, which is about a 30-minute drive from Rock Hill.
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Piedmont College added a seasoned collegiate champion to its roster for the school’s first year of varsity cycling. Erica Allar, a 31-year-old track racer with multiple championship titles, said she won a race Saturday “by the skin of my teeth.”
“I raced collegiates in my undergrad, so I’m coming back and hopefully, helping bolster the collegiate racing program,” Allar said after winning the 500-meter time trial national championship title. “To bring home a few stars and stripes jerseys and national championship titles is awesome.”