33to1 staff picks race winners

After months of training, race day is finally here. Today, the women take the track at 4 p.m. Tomorrow, the men will have their turn at Bill Armstrong Stadium with the green flag scheduled to drop at 2 p.m.

After months of analysis and reporting, we can finally unveil who we think is going to take the checkered flag.

Here’s our staff picks, as well as your chance to cast your own vote for who you think will win.

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First-year team Ski rides its way to the top

Natalie Laser can’t contain the emotion. She’s visibly excited, wearing a wide smile across her face and her eyes as bright as the afternoon sun. Her first real jersey just came in.

It’s April 2, 23 days away from race day – the very first race day in Ski Club Cycling history. And it’s the day those very first jerseys have just come in. Of course, that meant the team had to change immediately, despite it being the middle of practice.

“Look at our new jerseys!” she said. “Aren’t they awesome?!”

For Ski, a first-year team with four rookie riders that did not come together until January, everything about the track, the bikes, the race is reason for excitement.

Just earlier in the day, back before the team had its actual jerseys, the team had been pondering a question about the bike. All four riders – Laser, Alex Benigni, Megan Huibregtse and Ashley King – are about the same height. Does this mean they should use just one bike on race day? Could they do that? Is that a good idea?

They’re not sure right now. But they giggle at the realization. It’s another exciting thought. It’s another new thought.

But the most exciting moment came on March 29, just four days before. It was Quals. It was a moment of triumph. It was a blur. It was exciting.

“I replay it in my head it was so exciting,” Laser said.

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Team Pursuit gives better idea of race winner, final probability

BY CHARLES SCUDDER | @cscudder

Unlike Quals, Team Pursuit results can yield a decent model for predicting race day success. Team Pursuit and Miss ‘N Out are better simulators for how teams perform on the day of the race than the other events before race day.

IUSF records are inconsistent at best when it comes to Miss ‘N Out results, giving us an uphill battle when creating a historic base on which to extract winning probability. Instead, we can look at the past 20 years of Team Pursuit results to predict the chances teams have of winning based exclusively on their Team Pursuit placement.

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Black Key Bulls win Spring Series, will wear white jersey

With both Beta Theta Pi and Phi Delta Theta not qualifying for the finals of Team Pursuit, Black Key Bulls, currently with the top men’s time, will win the Spring Series.

It is the first time in team-history Black Key Bulls will wear the white jersey on race day as winners of the Spring Series. The team started racing in 2006.

BKB entered Sunday with a 1-point lead on Beta and a 2-point lead on pole-sitter Phi Delta Theta. It ran a 9:21.16 at Team Pursuit, more than five seconds faster than the Phi Delts and 13 seconds faster than Beta. With Cutters running the second fastest time, it guarantees that neither Phi Delts or Beta will be in the final.

It is the second year in a row an independent team will wear the white jersey, with Cutters wearing it last year.

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Q&A: Beta Theta Pi’s Chris Craig

His coach Eric Anderson called the performance the ITT version of the Dixie Highway Award. In 2013, Beta Theta Pi’s Chris Craig finished 111th overall at ITTs (yes, that’s one-hundred eleventh, not a typo). This year, he was faster than every other rider in the field. 111th to 1st.

How did he do it? How has his training changed? What, overall, has changed for him in the last year?

And what’s it like trying to defend Beta’s title after losing all four riders from last year’s championship team?

We asked. Craig answered.

While Craig is humbled by the win, he understands his team of four race rookies still has a lot to work on before race day.

33to1: How were the nerves going into Saturday?

Craig: I felt pretty relaxed. I didn’t really know quite what to expect going in, just wanted to try to perform my best. We’ve been training hard all year. i was just really excited to get out on the track. With the rain delay and everything like that, I was just ready to get out there.

33to1: Was that weird having ITTs pushed back four days?

Craig: We had to adjust for it. We were considering doing a race over the weekend and we had to cancel that and stay here and train. Things did work out how we hoped it would, though. We felt good going into the day.

33to1: When you completed your ITT run, did you have any idea that you did sub-2:23? (Craig won ITTs with a 2:22.98)

Craig: No, actually. I thought I was around a high 2:23. I actually wasn’t too sure how well the run was going half way through until I was getting yelled at by Eric (Anderson) saying that I was on pace to break 2:24. That really pumped me up for the last lap and I just went all out. 

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Q&A: Kappa Alpha Theta’s Brenna McGinn

Brenna McGinn is a name that you might not recognize — after all, she is a rookie — but it’s a name you need to learn quickly to get ready for this year’s Little 500.

McGinn, a senior riding for Kappa Alpha Theta, just picked up cycling this year. She was a competitive cheerleader in high school, but never ran track or cross country, the sport of choice for several Little 500 riders. In fact, she admits she forgot how to ride a bike the summer before coming to IU.

But despite her newness, McGinn has picked up riding immediately. She finished fifth overall at ITTs, the top rider outside of the No. 1 heat.

We asked McGinn to tell us how she’s gotten to where she is today, and what’s made her successful at Bill Armstrong Stadium.

33to1: What were the nerves like before ITTs?

McGinn: They were pretty high just because ITTs were supposed to be on Wednesday. I felt really prepared on Wednesday because I had been doing ITTs and then the weather kinda screwed that up. The weather continued to screw the track up, so I hadn’t gotten to do an ITT since Tuesday. So I was nervous about my pacing and, I mean, I got to see my teammates kill it all day so that just made me more amped up.

I guess I didn’t really get crazy nervous until I was on the warm up bike and I realized that so many people were watching and it is an individual thing, my team isn’t there with me. That’s when it started kicking in a lot. 

33to1: Was that the best time you had ever done on your ITTs? How did that compare to your practice times?

McGinn: My fastest time I put up before my ITT was on Monday and it was 2:46 (McGinn’s official ITT run on Saturday was 2:42.97). I was happy with that. I knew that that would’ve landed me seventh last year, and you’re not supposed to compare times at all, but it was a little bit of a confidence boost going into it.

The track was so fast. I saw that in the times all day. My teammates all killed it. They all bested their own times. That was definitely a personal record for me. I felt good, ya know, after I started feeling things again.

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Quals position often not a perfect predictor of race success

BY CHARLES SCUDDER | @cscudder

The name of this site may be 33to1, but there’s a lot more that goes into a team’s odds of winning the Little 500 on race day than meets the eye. Team experience, speed in exchanges, track conditions, unexpected crashes and so much else plays into whether or not a team will be successful at Bill Armstrong Stadium.

The spring series events help test those different variables. ITTs find the fastest individual rider. Team Pursuit lets us see the teams perform as a group. Miss ‘N Out combines both speed and strategy.

Throughout the spring series, I’ll be looking at the odds each team has in raising the Borg-Warner Trophy on race day. I’ll be trying to predict probabilities based off historical numbers charting past team’s successes and failures.

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Welcome to the World’s Greatest College Weekend

There’s nothing else like it.

Every April, Bloomington becomes obsessed with one thing: the Little 500. The day-long, non-stop action of Qualifications. The head-to-head rider battles in Individual Time Trials and Miss ‘N Out. The team challenge of Team Pursuit. And, of course, race day itself.

Spring finally bringing sunshine and warm weather back to Bloomington (usually). Fans painting their chests for their favorite teams. Students belting out their house chant. Straight No Chaser performing “Back Home Again in Indiana.” Fred Glass saying the magical words, “Riders, mount your Little 500 bicycles.” The crashes. The competition. The rivalry. The victory pose. The lone champion.

Ask anyone who has been before. There’s nothing else like it.

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