Asheville, N.C.– On a muddy and difficult course at the Biltmore Estate that featured more than 400 vertical feet of climbing in a roughly one mile course, John Francisco rode to 18th place while Ben King rode to 43rd place at the USA Cycling Collegiate Cyclocross National Championships. The event marked the fourth time UofL Cycling has featured at a national championship.
By Abner Miralda
Francisco entered the race in excellent position, starting from the front row as the representative of the Mid-West Cycling Collegiate Conference after winning the championship in November. “It was really cool to start at the front,” said Francisco, “The field was stacked [with talent].” The UofL sophomore struggled through the technical sections of the course in the tightly packed traffic of the first lap, falling to a top-25 position. “My last lap was good, which made up for the first,” he smiled immediately after the race, managing to pull ahead from a handful of riders into 18th place. “It was one of the best courses I’ve ever ridden.”
Graduate student Ben King finished 43rd. King was off to a fast start from his grid spot near the back of the 75-man field, slinking gracefully past heavy traffic in the most technical sections of the course. “It was great for me because there were some really technical sections,” said King after the race, “but I didn’t have the legs today.” King was unable to respond to the surges of chasing riders on the long grassy straightaways and choppy corners, but was able to battle back at the tricky off-camber and wooded sections.
The race was won convincingly by defending national champion and Louisville native Drew Dillman, racing for Marian University in Indianapolis.
The 2016 Cyclocross National Championships marks the one-year anniversary since the first-ever national championship appearance for UofL Cycling when Francisco and King represented UofL in Austin, Tex. at the 2015 Cyclocross National Championships. Since then, UofL Cycling has been represented at Collegiate Road Nationals by Francisco and Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals by Mark Renn.
To learn more about the 2016 USA Cycling Cyclocross Nationals at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, visit https://usacycling.org/cx/
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