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Square Hosts NCCA

College Cycling Championships Circle Yard

By Jonathan Samuels

The roads around Harvard Yard were closed to traffic yesterday, but that doesn't mean the wheels stopped turning.

Instead, 250 college cyclists from 50 universities descended on Harvard Square to compete in the last leg of the National Collegiate Cycling Association (NCCA) championships.

Janelle Parks from the University of New Mexico won yesterday's women's race. Tyler Hamilton, a University of Colorado junior who hails from nearby Marlboro, Mass., won the men's race in front of family and friends.

"I wanted to do well back here on my home turf," Hamilton said. "It was great, but it was the result of hard work, good coaching and a little bit of luck."

Thousands of spectators lined the streets yesterday afternoon to watch the race, which was the third segment of the championships. While yesterday's race, called the criterium, consisted of 40 miles for men and 30 miles for women on a closed circuit around the Yard, the weekend also included a road race on Saturday in Belmont and team time trials yesterday morning in Concord.

Hamilton's team of five cyclists also took home second prize in yesterday's men's team trials, placing behind the University of California-Santa Barbara. Stanford and Cornell placed sixth and seventh, while MIT finished tenth.

In the women's team time trials, Stanford took top prize, while MIT placed fifth. Cornell and Princeton finished seventh and ninth, respectively.

Yesterday's participants qualified for the race by their performance in regional races, said Deb Cronin of Conover & Company, a promoter of the event. She said the only Massachusetts entrants were from MIT, which hosted the championship, and the University of Massachusetts.

The championships move to a different city each year, although organizers usually choose a more rural university setting than Boston, Cronin said. But she praised this year's selection, especially for the location of the culminating race around Harvard Yard.

"It's such a historical setting, and such an awesome place for a race," Cronin said. "There are hills, some corners, and it's not too tight around the track."

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