The men’s polesitters are starting as high as they ?ever had.
Their ITT times are stronger than any other Wright team before them and completed one of the best Spring Series the team has seen.
The 2015 Wright Cycling team is already making an argument for being the best in program history, which dates back to 1970, according to IU Student Foundation records.
And they’re giving credit to a Cutter.
Former Cutters rider Chris Wojtowich has changed Wright’s team culture in his second year coaching and it’s beginning to pay off.
When the green flag drops Saturday, everyone’s going to be chasing Wright Cycling.
“A lot of it comes down to him,” senior R.J. Thomas said. “He was a great rider and he’s been a great coach. He’s a huge part of what we’re doing. The culture he’s instilled in this team is irreplaceable.”
Wojtowich has amped Wright’s training program in his time training the team, helping them to quicker times and more consistent speeds.
Senior Evan Zehr, one of two riders in the field with race experience, said his training has radically changed with the addition of Wojtowich, who in his own days was part of Cutters teams that lapped the entire race field.
Zehr said he used to train about 45 minutes a day to prepare for the race. Now he’s training three to six hours, depending on the day.
“We’ve put so much more focus on training,” Zehr said. “It’s a complete change that everyone has bought into.”
That increased training started as early as last summer when Zehr, Thomas and Ted Tarricone, who has race experience with another team, cycled from Canada to Mexico to build a base endurance to work from.
“You can really see that start to translate on the track,” Thomas said.
And the improvement hasn’t been in those three riders alone, either.
Wright followed up its polesitting qualifying run by putting five riders in the top 49 in Individual Time Trials.
Thomas led the way in 27th, followed closely behind by Zehr in 35th and Brad Bailey in 41st.
Not many other teams in the field have that type of depth, and Bailey said he thinks it’s made a huge difference in the team’s ?performance.
“It’s immense. It’s immense,” Bailey said. “I mean, everybody has their strengths on this team. Everybody, for the most part, knows each other’s strengths. As a unit, we’re very, very deep.”
Zehr said Wright has been calling itself the “Dixie Dynasty” for the last few years.
The nickname comes from winning the Dixie Highway Award in two of the last three races.
The Dixie Highway is given to the team that makes up the most positions from its qualifying spot on race day.
Starting first, Wright won’t be able to win the Dixie Highway Award for a third time in four years, but that’s OK.
They’ve got their eyes set on a different prize.
“We’re going out there to win,” Thomas said. “We’re not going out there for a top five or to do the best we’ve done. We’ve got the ?expectation to win.”