Sep 142008
 
Authors: Johnny Hart

CSU graduate student Dan Lionberg pedaled his way to a national cycling championship Saturday in Colorado Springs, finishing just six points ahead of competitor David Espinoza of Penn State University.

Lionberg’s gold in the individual omnium competition — awarded to the cyclist with the most individual competition points //– was one of many medals won by the CSU Rams cycling team, including silvers in the Team Pursuit and the team omnium competitions.

Lionberg credited both the crowd and his teammates for the wins at the Collegiate Cycling Track National Championship.

“We simultaneously worked really hard,” Lionberg said in a phone interview. “All of the training paid off.”

Lionberg was in second place in the individual omnium until he edged out Espinoza during the final event of the competition. Because the team was solidly in second place for the team omnium, Lionberg said the team’s main goal was to help him win.

“No one could catch us, and we couldn’t catch gold,” Lionberg said.

The Marian College team, who Lionberg said was the strongest at the competition, edged out CSU for the gold in the team pursuit. But the Rams team was on its heels, losing the men’s team pursuit by only four-tenths of a second.

“Marian was sweating bullets,” Lionberg said. “For us to come on and get second, and almost get first, was amazing for us.”

Tim Anderson, president of the Fort Collins Veldrome Association and friend of the Rams cycling team, sponsored a bus sending 20 cycling enthusiasts to the races held Saturday in Colorado Springs.

Although teams from the Colorado area had many fans, Anderson believed that “CSU had the most overwhelming amount of people.”

Anderson mentioned that CSU cyclist Erick Carlson said he could hear the crowd cheering “C-S-U”, but was riding so fast he could only hear one of the letters as he whirled by.

Weather played a major factor in the event, with rain cancelling one day’s events and postponing several others.

In the men’s one-kilometer time trial, Lionberg clipped out of his pedals and slipped down the track.

Although he was allowed a restart, he finished with the bronze medal.

“I couldn’t get my head back in it,” Lionberg said.

Lionberg also said that many of the cyclists caught colds due to the weather conditions throughout the event.

“If the crowd wasn’t there cheering . I couldn’t have won the omnium,” Lionberg said, recalling the battle with his health.

Fort Collins resident Bob Yocum, 70, braved the weather, making the trek down to Colorado Springs on the bus.

Yocum said he supports the team because cycling is a wholesome, athletic event.

Bringing the race home

“Velodrome racing is very exciting,” Yocum said. “I really hope that we’re fortunate enough to get one [velodrome stadium] here in Fort Collins.”

Anderson and others at the Fort Collins Velodrome Association are lobbying to bring a velodrome facility to downtown Fort Collins.

A velodrome is a sloped track in which track cycling competitions take place.

Anderson said he hopes to see a velodrome in Fort Collins so that CSU may become more competitive with colleges like Marian College in Indianapolis. Marian College has its own velodrome facility a mile from campus.

Lionberg said he fully supports the cause to build a velodrome in Fort Collins.

He said that a velodrome facility in Fort Collins “could lead to more athletes” and that the equipment needed for this style of racing is durable and relatively cheap.

Senior Reporter Johnny Hart can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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