When: May 3-5
Where: Ogden, Utah
More info: http://usacycling.org/2013/collegiate-road-nationals
T he University of Colorado-Boulder cycling club team is heading back to road nationals after finishing second last year by a small margin.
The team will not be happy with another second place finish, says head coach Frank Overton.
"We're quietly confident and optimistic," he said. "As a coach, I am really looking forward to going back and seeing if we can improve upon (last year's) finish."
The team heads to Ogden, Utah, for nationals May 3-5. Colorado is coming off a win at the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference championships, where several Buffs won individual titles and placed high in individual races.
Among them was senior Abby Mickey, who won the season-long individual omnium competition and senior Bill Golembieski, who won the individual omnium on the men's side.
Seniors Mickey and Golembieski want to cap off their Colorado cycling careers with a national title. Men's captain and senior Will Buick said winning a national title is "definitely a possibility" with the depth of the team this season.
"We have some seniors that also know this is their last nationals, and we've got some riders riding better than they ever have before," Overton said. "They want to capitalize on all their hard work with a team championship."
Mickey, who started racing for the team two years ago, remembers being "terrified" for her first ever nationals experience. Now that she's graduating, Mickey said 2013 nationals will be an emotional weekend as she comes to terms with racing for CU for the last time.
"The girls I'm racing with, we probably won't be on the same team again," she said. "It's really sad that we're going to be parting ways. But also kind of cool because we've grown a lot together."
Despite individual championships in 2012 by now-graduated Colorado riders Heather Fischer and Josh Yeaton, the Buffs couldn't top Marian University last year.
This year, Overton said the team will rely on its depth to get the points necessary for a win. For the women, that means strong races from senior Christa Ghent in the women's criterium and junior Camilo Zambrano in the men's road race. Ghent and Zambrano won those events at the conference championships.
"Everything counts," Overton said. "It's a true team event."
To pay for expenses, including transportation and lodging costs at races, the Buffs are selling team kits as a fundraiser. Because the team is a student-run club sport (and not a varsity sport, like cycling is at Marian), it must cover most expenses out of pocket or through fundraising efforts, said team president Danny Hiller.
The kits are a way for supporters and fans to show pride in the cycling team and university, Hiller said.
"Collegiate racing is all about the team," Hiller said. "People don't think of cycling as a team sport, but it's all about the team and racing for your school. We're racing for Boulder."
Several late-spring snowstorms have kept the Buffs inside for training a few extra days, Hiller said. But many cycling powerhouses will have dealt with similar weather, so he didn't anticipate the weather affecting the team's results much.
The results will come down to fitness, teamwork and quick reactions to mechanicals and other unforeseen events. If everything comes together the way she hopes, Mickey and the Buffs will come home with a national title.
"Honestly, I'm kind of sick of getting second place," Mickey said. "I'm hoping we bring home that national title. This year everyone's working together so well."
--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.