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    May 3, 2023 Charlottesville, Va. RSS |

    Liberty University freshman men’s cyclist James Povolny won both Saturday’s Class B criterium and Sunday’s Class B road race at the Atlantic Coast Cycling Conference (ACCC) Championships hosted by the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. The two wins clinched the overall season title for Povolny, who moved up from Class B to Class A but did not have the points needed at that level to compete in the USA Cycling Collegiate National Championships set for this weekend in Albuquerque, N.M.

    Povolny, who has entered multiple mountain bike races near his hometown of Apple Valley, Minn., over the past few years, had no road racing experience prior to arriving at Liberty, where he is studying exercise science. He wound up winning four of the nine Class B races he entered, including a criterium at Appalachian State in Boone, N.C., and a road race at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., where he also finished third at the Maryland Criterium.

    Povolny stands atop the podium for edging cyclists from Maryland and Virginia Tech as the ACCC overall season champion.

    “I have trained on road bikes before, but never raced,” Povolny said. “I started out in B and my main goal was to make it into A, and I ended up accomplishing that. My first couple races, I didn’t do too well. They were more for getting my feet wet. I didn’t finish my first criterium after having mechanical problems with my bike. As soon as I built some confidence and strength over the season, I decided to go out there and give it my best and try to win the thing. By my third race, I got my first win and the (ACCC) Championships was my best weekend so far.”

    The ACCC criterium was a combination of men’s Class B and C racers as well as the open men’s category for both Cat. 4 and Cat. 3 riders, and Povolny finished fifth overall out of 60 cyclists completing approximately 40 laps on the course over a period of 40 minutes.

    Sunday’s road race, which combined the Class A and B cyclists, was 60 miles in length and took the lead riders around two and a half hours.

    “I ended up getting third overall, with only two of the five Class A riders finishing ahead of me,” Povolny said. “It was definitely a fun season. Right now, I’m the only one racing for Liberty, and we are trying to recruit more. Head Coach Timo Budarz and Assistant Coach Alex Winnicki, who is also Liberty’s Olympic Sport dietitian, are awesome. They really pushed me to do better and made sure I was ready this weekend. I can only imagine how much better we can get in the future.”

    Povolny plans to enter the ACCC mountain bike series in the fall as well as the spring road cycling series. He entered one ACCC mountain bike race as a Class B competitor this past fall at Lees-McRae (N.C.) College and earned Class A status based on his first-place finish.

    “My bigger focus is on mountain bike racing, and I am going to try to do every race in the fall and go to nationals after that,” Povolny said of the mountain bike championship race to be held in Durango, Colo. “You have to race at least four events and earn enough points to finish in the top 5-10 in the conference.”

    This summer when he returns to Apple Valley, Povolny may enter a road cycling criterium series at the Minnesota State Fair, but will mostly be preparing for the mountain bike season by training on the five trail systems within a 10-minute drive of his house.

    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer