Matt Willing wins Criterium and Omnium at French Broad Cycling Classic

22 07 2009

A week after crushing the Hot Doggett 100 course, Matt Willing continues to show good form on the road. Matt’s background is in cross country running and cyclocross, and he has relatively little road racing experience, thus he’s had to start at the bottom with the category 5 group. During last weekend’s French Broad Cycling Classic, hosted by MHC Cycling supporter Asheville Bicycle Racing Club, Matt had the opportunity to tackle his first road omnium. In the flat/fast 20k TT, Matt completed the course in 5th place against a rather large category 5 field, albeit without any aero equipment. The next day’s 40-mile RR with 6,000+ feet of climbing better suited his skills and equipment. Despite a field of nearly 50 riders, Matt could find little assistance at the front of the field. At the mountain top finish, Matt realized that his early efforts cost him too much energy and he had to settle for 4th, but not more than 20 seconds back at the end of the final 7k climb. Having learned a valuable tactical lesson, Matt was motivated for the last stage of the omnium, a 30 minute criterium. Matt maintained his position in the top five for the entire race, rarely putting his nose in the wind on the rolling course. With one lap to go, Matt attacked at the base of the stair step climb and immediately distanced the field, riding alone to victory. After all the weekend’s points were tallied, Matt claimed first place in the omnium. Matt has now won 3 of his first 5 USAC events and is poised to climb up through the categories at a rapid rate.

Latest Recruits Continue to Show Strength Leading into Fall Season

16 07 2009

This past weekend both Matt Willing and Paul Webb demonstrated that they are in great form as they approach the fall cycling season for Mars Hill College. Matt competed in the Hot Doggett 100, an annual event promoted by the Madison County Rotary Club that starts at Mars Hill College and climbs nearly 10,000 feet before finishing back at the college. Matt was with the lead group approaching Doggett Pass, the ride’s namesake and the first significant challenge on the course but still about 65 miles from the finish. Matt crested the 7 mile climb alone and then waited for seasoned pro Andy Applegate on the descent so that they could work together for the remainder of the ride. But with about 35 miles left, Andy dropped of the strong pace set by Matt on the front, leaving Matt to solo in and claim first place by over 6 minutes in a time of 5:13, over 7 minutes faster than last year’s winner. Matt’s next event will be this weekend’s French Broad Cycling Classic, which kicks off tomorrow with a 20k TT, followed on Saturday by a challenging 40-mile RR that finishes atop a challenging climb, and concluding Sunday with a challenging and technical criterium.

Up in Nebraska, Paul has continued a strong string of results since he claimed the Nebraska State Criterium Championship back in early June. Since then Paul has finished 5th in a challenging mountain bike race against a field of category 1 riders and has scored a series of podium finishes at road events over the last three weekends, often sacrificing personal victory for the greater good of the team.  Rest assured he will have plenty of opportunities at MHC next year on the road when the team will be working to set him up for sprint finishes. You can keep up with Paul’s recent and upcoming successes at