By Christopher Evans
Published 04/14/2023; Updated 04/14/2023

A commanding lead out followed by an explosive sprint by Carlos “Tito” Garza earned the recently formed Northampton Cycling Club race team a victory at the season-opener in the category 4/5 field during the Hatfield Road Race on Saturday, April 8, 2023.

Team captain Justin Eichenlaub, who organized the team and crafted the team’s race day plan, stayed near the front of the peloton during the 37.5 Kermesse-style road race through the Hatfield, Mass., farmlands. Temperatures at the start of the race were hovering just above freezing under sunny skies. Chris Evans, Pat Ryan, Enrique Negron, and Garza calmly moved up through the field during the three lap race. Headwinds on the interior portions of the course and crosswinds that swept across the empty fields along River Road thwarted any early attacks and wore down the race’s early leaders.

Photo by William Kurtz


With four kilometers to go, the team’s leadout train began to form. Eichenlaub steadily moved to the front of the pack, Evans on his wheel, followed by Garza with Negron and Ryan moving into position. The road was straight and the team’s chances looked great. Just as the pace began to quicken, a crash occurred to the right of Evans and Garza and took out several racers including Ryan, who sustained only minor injuries.

After making a quick assessment in the crash aftermath, Eichenlaub pushed to the front with Evans and Garza in tow. Now with 2K to go, Eichenlaub began the lead out for several hundred meters, Evans took a turn, followed by one more pull from Eichenlaub as Garza patiently waited for the opportunity to take the win. As the finish line approached, Garza found daylight between two racers and uncorked the power to outsprint the remaining field for a decisive victory.

Additional NCC racers in the men’s 4/5 race included Andy Scott (35th) and Frank Sleegers (51st).

Joe Lellman, 6th place in 60+ Cat 1-4; Bob Lelievre DNF’d after a crash in which he luckily sustained only minor injuries in the same race; Charlotte Lellman’s 4/5 women’s race was unfortunately neutralized due to safety concerns given crashes in the mens’ fields.