Cycling: Frey collects Division II USA Cycling title
Racing against Lance Armstrong would usually be the highlight of any college cyclist’s career. For senior Nick Frey, however, it was only one of several high points in the past two weeks, during which the mechanical engineering major also won the Division II road race at the USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships and helped Princeton to a second-place finish in the Division II men’s team time trial.
Frey, a devoted cyclist who races in more than 60 competitions each year, participated in the Tour of the Gila against a field that included Armstrong, the famed seven-time Tour de France champion. After only a week of rest, Frey blew away the field in the Division II road race at Nationals, finishing five minutes ahead of his nearest competitors on a day when a stiff headwind made the final miles of the course a torturous experience.
In the road race, Frey jumped out ahead early and joined a breakaway of nine cyclists who sped ahead of the peloton. At the beginning of the race, a strong tailwind negated the advantage of drafting — the reduction in air resistance gained by following in the wake of the racer in front — and gave Frey a strong incentive to break from the peloton.
“The thing with a tailwind is … drafting doesn’t really help you,” Frey said. “So what you can do in a tailwind, if you ride really hard, everyone else has to ride really hard, too.”
With all the racers giving their full effort in the early going, Frey and several other riders built a big lead on the pack. After several laps keeping pace with the leaders, Frey saw his opening and jumped on it. He was able to push the tempo through the feed zone, pushing the other riders and fracturing the breakaway into smaller packs.
Unfortunately for all of the riders involved, there was a headwind during the final 10-mile stretch of the race. Frey, however, was confident that his strength gave him an advantage in these conditions.
“Conditions were pretty ideal for me,” Frey said. “When it’s really windy, I tend to do better than the other guys … It was just really slow going.”
In the last few miles, Frey was informed by his tailing motorcycle that his time gap over his nearest competitors was more than three minutes. Even with the race in hand, Frey pedaled furiously through the last two miles to finish more than five minutes ahead of the second-place rider.
Princeton also posted a strong showing in the Division II men’s team time trial despite having only three participating riders — most teams field a group of four, of which three must finish. The Tigers finished roughly 10 seconds behind the first-place squad from defending champion Furman University.
After graduation, Frey plans to pursue cycling full-time. Having already raced against Armstrong, he hopes one day to race against the legend at the Tour de France.
Frey’s goal is to reach cycling’s most prestigious race within five years.
The ambitious cycling enthusiast is also starting his own company, Boo Bikes. The company will exclusively sell high-end bamboo bicycles — a largely untapped market.
“There’s one other person in the world who makes bamboo bikes for sale,” Frey said.
In business as well as biking, it seems that Frey is racing ahead of the curve.
An earlier version of this article inaccurately stated Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France six times. In fact, he won seven championships.