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by Michael Better
August 23, 2018
Photography by Bicycle Racing Pictures/USA CRITS
Based in Indianapolis, the Gray Goat-Bullseye Total Media squad is what the midwestern United States is all about — down to earth, and hardworking.
The squad includes riders from Louisville, Kentucky, and Bloomington, Indiana, as well as a few other Midwest cities, and a few former Little 500 riders mixed in for good measure.
The mentality among the group is to have fun, relax, and be friendly off the bike — but when the whistle blows, it is game on. There’s no better example than that of the team’s marquee rider, Rachel Langdon. Langdon is set to win the CyclingTips Lap Leader jersey for the 2018 USA CRITS series, a jersey that largely represents the most aggressive rider throughout the season.
The Little 500 is perhaps the most important collegiate bike race in the United States, where four-person teams race around a quarter-mile cinder track, swapping riders in and out every so often. Held every spring at Indiana University, the race is intense and full gas from the gun. That also happens to be the way Gray Goat-Bullseye Total Media likes to race criteriums.
Criterium racing and Little 500 have very little in common, except for the fact that they are both adrenaline-inducing affairs with thousands of fans cheering the riders on during the race.
“You don’t have team tactics,” Rachel Hannon said of the difference between the Little 500 and professional criterium racing. “In Little 500, you just put one person in at a time from your team. So really I’m just racing against 32 other women.
“Whereas in a crit race, our team is racing together, so if somebody’s off the front, then boom, I have a job in the race and it’s to hold people off or break away myself or it’s just a completely different dynamic. It’s faster, the course is not just a circle, it’s on street pavement instead of cinders.”
Hannon and her teammate Bri Clark both raced the Little 500 while in college, though Clark did so many years prior to Hannon. Hannon broke the Little 500 individual time trial record this past spring — four laps around the track — a record that was once held by Clark.
At the Littleton Twilight Criterium in Colorado at the beginning of August, Langdon explained she was going to start the race a little easier due to the altitude. However, that proved not to be the case as she started attacking off the front just a few laps into the race, her aggressive racing attitude shining through. That helps explain how Langdon has worn the purple CyclingTips Lap Leader jersey since the first race of the season, in April at Athens Twilight.
“Some people say I maybe do a little too much work, but I would rather race offensively than defensively,” Langdon said. “I always feel a lot better when I’m racing aggressively and I think things can come my way a little more. So yeah, it’s been fantastic to be in the lap leaders jersey because of that kind of racing. I wanna race my bike as hard as I can, and yeah, that just comes with it.”
Langdon driving at the front of the peloton at the Harlem Criterium in New York City. Photo: Bicycle Racing Pictures.
Langdon lives in Louisville, Kentucky, but is originally from England. She had never raced in her home country until this year when she ventured across the Atlantic earlier in the summer for the criterium national championships. When she did finally race on home soil, she found something surprising.
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, everyone in this field, races like I do,’” Langdon said. “I’m not discounting the racing [in the U.S.] It’s a little more strategic, but [in England] it’s just as full gas as you can go.”
Full gas is the way Langdon likes it, and she’s showing no signs of slowing down.
While the team is comprised of women in their post-college years, there is one young sensation that stands out in the crowd — Faith Montreuil, a name that’s worth keeping an eye on. Watching the recently turned 16-year-old interact with her teammates, you get the sense Montreuil is definitely headed places in the sport of cycling.
Montreuil stands out in the peloton like a sore thumb. She’s much shorter, and much youngern than her competitors. In fact,Tina Pic (Colavita-Bialetti), one of the best and most accomplished U.S. criterium racers in history, won her first pro national criterium championship in 2002, the year Montreuil was born. Pic’s racing age is 52 this season, while Montreuil celebrated her 16th birthday in typical cyclist fashion by racing under the lights in Littleton Colorado.
Faith Montreuil is a name to remember for the future. Photo: Snowy Mountain Photography/USA CRITS.
Montreuil was introduced to bike racing via her mother. At first, she balanced bike racing and cross-country running, but soon enough she was fully committed to cycling. She recently captured second in the U.S. amateur national road championships in the 15-16 age category, beaten only by another young phenom, Megan Jastrab.
While Montreuil is full of potential, she’s found some great mentors on the USA CRITS circuit who have helped her along the way. The U.S. criterium scene is known for its close-knit atmosphere and that is never more clear than by how Montreuil is treated in the peloton.
“I’ve actually been really lucky to meet a lot of really experienced people who’ve either given me good advice or have corrected me when I’ve done something that’s wrong in a race,” Montreuil said. “It can be really scary, especially at the first race that I did I was scared because I was racing against all these other people and I didn’t want anybody to think ‘Oh she’s sketchy because she’s younger, or something like that.’
“I think that it’s not as scary now, and I feel like I can at least race and put up a pretty good fight against most of these people, but not all of them. With the people that I know, sometimes they can be actually kind of nice to me during the race ’cause they still think of me as a kid, which is kind of sad at the same time.”
Montreuil’s raw talent is unquestionable; she was recently invited to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs by USA Cycling to participate in a development camp. She’s driven and eager to go wheel-to-wheel with the best the U.S. criterium scene has to offer. At the same time, it’s clear she understands she’s still young, and that patience and time are her best friends.
Bri Clark, Betsy Kieffer, Rachel Langdon, Faith Montreuil, Jenette Williams, and Brooke Hannon