Indianapolis and the surrounding area hosts three big cycling races this weekend in a series known as the TKO: Tri KlassicOmnium. Riders on the NUVO Cycling team are ready to race to victory in each of the races taking place in Lawrence, Carmel and Broad Ripple.
Bike races were all the rage in Indianapolis more than a century ago. When Marshall 'Major' Taylor won his first significant road race in 1895 at the age of 16, thousands of spectators cheered the riders along the 75-mile course, though few were happy to see a man of color beat the white competitors.
Taylor left Indianapolis soon after that victory and would go on to win local, national and international races so frequently and decidedly that he was — undisputed — the fastest cyclist in the world until his retirement in 1910.
A century later, competitive cycling in Indianapolis is once again garnering attention for the quality and consistency of wins by local riders. And while it might sound like we're bragging on our own when we refer to the NUVO Cycling team as one of the best in the country, the truth is both the International Cycling Union and USA Cycling agree.
This year, team NUVO was one of 22 men's teams invited to join the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar and compete as a 'Domestic Elite' squad alongside the 15 professional American squads that vie internationally in USA Cycling's National Racing Calendar (NRC).
In addition to racing at a much higher level of competition and having a higher national profile, the purpose of the Domestic Elite Teams (DETs), according to USA Cycling, is to "create a stepping stone to the professional level" for riders who want to transition from collegiate or hobby racing.
The National Racing Calendar (NRC) is the premier season-long domestic road cycling series sanctioned by USA Cycling. With an overall ranking system that determines the best teams and individual riders in the U.S., the NRC features the nation's top road race events, boasts a total prize purse of more than one million dollars and is open to both professional and amateur cyclists.
The NUVO Cycling Domestic Elite Team has nine riders competing at the Category 1 level this season: Eric Anderson, Declan Doyle, Aaron Hubbell, Jonathan Jacob, Joe Kukolla, Weston Luzadder, Andrew Otte, Brad Schaeffer, Jeff Schroetlin and Ben Weaver. Seven additional riders compete at Masters or Category 2.
Many of the riders on the NUVO Cycling team are also collegiate riders and have had a good deal of success riding with their respective teams this spring.
In addition to riding for NUVO, Ludzadder and Kukolla have been leading the Marian University cycling team to victories across the Midwest over the past few months, with Ludzadder topping the collegiate rankings consistently.
With a win at the conference finals in St. Louis two weeks ago, Ludzadder and his Marian teammates head to the national collegiate championships in Wisconsin, May 5–8, along with Drew Otte and his Purdue squad.
Outside of the collegiate races, NUVO riders have had mixed success so far this season. Brad Schaeffer took a big win at the end of March at the Schababerle race in Kentucky under horrible weather conditions. Arguably one of the toughest race courses in region, Schababerle saw nearly 150 riders start the race — less than half finished. Along with Schaeffer's win, Otte came in fourth.
Closer to home, a smaller race in Mooresville, Ind., earlier this month was a good opportunity for the team to work out some early strategy. "We worked pretty well together and ended up lapping the field," said Jacob, "but the early lead didn't last."
In the end, victory went to Texas Roadhouse rider John Puffer while Erik Hamilton took second place with the help of teammates Jon Jacob (who finished fourth), Neal Forbes and Brett Stewart.
The biggest race for the team so far this season was the Hillsboro-Roubaix road race in southern Illinois at the beginning of April. In the words of NUVO Cycling Co-Captain Aaron Hubbell, "It is one of the premier road races in the Midwest, maybe even THE premier Midwest road race."
And while the NUVO team trained hard for the 90-mile race along brick village streets, flat open back roads, challenging climbs and twisty descents, the results weren't what the team had hoped for.
Road Captains Jon Jacob and Jeff Schroetlin had the support they needed at Hillsboro, with teammates Brad Schaeffer, Drew Otte, Brett Stewart, Neal Forbes and Declan Doyle, but the group miscalculated the strength and stamina of an early break that the peloton was never able to rein in.
"Hillsboro didn't go as planned. We missed the early move. A
group of seven formed in the first 5-10 miles and was never seen again,"
according to Doyle.
Despite the disappointment of not making the break, he felt the Hillsboro race was still a good one for the team.
"It was great to see three NUVO riders sprinting for a top 10 finish with a very select group of riders after 90 hard, hilly miles. This was a huge improvement from last year's race. We learn from it and move on."
Cycling enthusiasts will have three chances to see local teams compete this weekend in what's known as the Tri Klassic Omnium (TKO) beginning with a Friday night race in Lawrence, followed by a Saturday race in Carmel and a Sunday race in Broad Ripple. While each event will host racing at all levels of competition, the NUVO riders will be competing in the CAT 1/2/3 races for USA Cycling points and over $3,000 in prize money.
Friday, April 29
Village at the Fort, 9120 Otis Ave.
Flat, fast 'L-shaped' course with six turns.
8 p.m. Cat 1/2/3
Saturday, April 30
Village of West Clay, 12801 Chapel Square Street
Flat, fast course on pavement through Village of West Clay
3:15 p.m. Cat 1/2/3
Sunday, May 1
Broad Ripple Village
Criterium along the canal and Broad Ripple Avenue
3:15 – 4:30 p.m. CAT 1/2/3 race
For more information on the races or to register to compete, visit www.planetadventurerace.com or www.truesport.com.