Zach Adams led the charge out of the mist Tuesday morning.
At the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic, the three strongest men in the field showed their superiority on a day marked with mud and rain. Sam Koerber (ProGold, above), second in GC, was dropped from the leaders on the very first descent of the day, a short rocky singletrack that threw his chain over his cassette and left him standing trail-side as most of the field passed. Brian Matter (RACC/Trek/ProGold) who was in third overall at the start of the stage, and Justine Lindine (Redline/NBX), the current race leader, were unaware of what took the fast descending Koerber from the picture but worried little about the cause.
Matter, knowing that the time he lost to a flat yesterday could be redeemed, joined forces with Lindine who was looking to pad his lead. Also in the lead group were Phil Grove (Hammer Nutrition), Aaron Snyder (TSEpic.com/NoTubes), Mike Wissel (B2C2/Boloco), and Wes Richards (Clemmons Bicycle). But Lindine and Matter were not interested in having help and shed the others by the time the race entered Tower Trail, ten miles into the course.
On the first SRAM/Bear Creek Enduro segment of the day, Lindine (leading the pack, above) cooperated to allow Matter to compete in the Enduro segments with hopes of keeping the enduro jersey to the end. The two continued around the course trading the lead through Coburn and up the long gradual climb of Seigerville-Millheim Pike. Entering the final enduro segment of the day, Lindine decided that the time was right and jumped away. Lindine crossed the finish line 30 seconds ahead of Matter.
Koerber impressed the competition with an all-day chase over the 42 mile course that ended with a third place finish, while Wissell, above, had his best ever finish in a Trans-Sylvania Epic in fourth. Aaron Snyder continued his steady effort in the event with his fifth place finish.
Drew Edsall, though distanced on today’s stage by a crash in the opening miles, did win the stage’s enduro challenges. This result bodes well for the Kenda/Felt racer, as tomorrow’s stage, sponsored by SRAM/Bear Creek, focuses on the enduro competition with five timed segments in Rothrock Forest.
After yesterday’s technical rock crawl, racers faced a course that tested their fitness equally as much as their technique. The day would treat riders to almost 5,000 feet of climbing over 42 miles of fire roads interspersed with technical, rocky trails. Riders found no solace in the mild weather from earlier in the week, which was replaced with temperatures in the low-50s and light to moderate rain for the first half of the competition.
In the early portions of the race, the field was mostly clumped together, with very small gaps separating riders. After entering Tower Trail, the top riders would reunite to form a group that would stay together through most of the race. The group included four members of the Stan’s NoTubes Elite Women’s Team—Amanda Carey, Vicki Barclay, Sarah Kaufman, and Sue Haywood—along with Sonya Looney (Topeak Ergon), and Andrea Wilson (Brickhouse Racing).
Exiting Coburn, the group maintained a tight formation, trading off the lead on a pace-line charging through the roads back to the finish. The group climbed at a moderate pace up the gravel on Lingle Valley Road with no one willing to attack. The casual pace benefitted eventual stage winner Sue Haywood, above, who struggled to hold on to the group up the climb. “All they had to do was look at my face and they would know they should attack,” commented Haywood. With no one willing to be the aggressor, the group entered Mountain Church Road mostly wheel-to-wheel.
But the group would not stay close for long, as Vicki Barclay launched an attack up Synagogue Gap. Amanda Carey and Sue Haywood latched on, developing a small gap to the remaining three riders. Competing for the SRAM/Bear Creek Enduro segments, Sue Haywood attacked the final enduro section hard, passing Vicki Barclay on her way down. Though still feeling her legs were lacking from yesterday’s effort, Haywood found her strength on the rolling hills and singletrack in the last few miles of the course. Passing Carey on the singletrack, Haywood developed a few second lead that stuck through to the finish line for a first place finish. Carey’s second place finish allowed her to retain her NoTubes Leader’s jersey, while Barclay followed shortly after to grab third place for the day.
The Stan’s NoTubes Women’s Elite Team retained their strong hold on the GC competition, but were not able to expand their lead due to the tight racing throughout the day.
Following a strong stage victory on day 2, Matt Ferrari (Freeze Thaw Cycles/Hubcap Cycles) started Stage 3 looking to grow his lead over the competition. Early in the race, Ferrari separated from the group but found himself in the company of David Yacobelli (Corning/NoTubes Racing Team), who sought to make up time from a rough start to the week. Yacobelli and Ferrari decided early on to work together and use each other for motivation throughout the stage. Trading off leads through various sections, the duo stuck together until the end of the second enduro segment when Yacobelli attacked and developed a small lead. The lead would stick to the finish line, with Ferrari finishing a few seconds behind day’s winner.
Dejay Birtch (Riding for Reading/Stan’s/Maxxis/Pivot) displayed much improved form in comparison to the first two days as he rode in for a third place finish, just minutes behind the race leaders. Dax Massey (Breck Epic/Honey Stinger/Light and Motion), repeating his misfortune from yesterday, went slightly off course following a group of ten riders. Though able to correct the mistake quickly, the detour enabled Rich Dillen (Faster Mustache) to get ahead, continuing the battle the two fought in Stage 2. Climbing out of Coburn, Dillen fought hard to maintain his lead through the long, gravel climb. Massey, however, was committed to regaining his time, as well as his position, and put in a strong attack to catch Dillen in the last quarter of the race. Massey (below) held on to his lead over Dillen by seconds to finish fourth in the stage.
Today’s results leaves the NoTubes Leader’s Jersey with Matt Ferrari, but the day’s race created shake-ups in the rest of the General Classification that is sure to lead to more great racing in the days to come.
Matching their finish from yesterday, Masters 40+ riders Alex Hawkins and Nathan Ruch (Evolution) crossed the finish line within half a wheel of each other. After yesterday’s sprint finish, Hawkins and Ruch decided not to sprint for today’s stage, and instead reversed their finish order from the previous day to allow Hawkins to place first in Stage 3. Bob Radzwich (The Bicycle Shop/Vassago) crossed the finish line a few minutes later to secure third place. The two days of close racing have made the Masters 40+ race the closest in the Trans-Sylvania Epic for the overall GC competition with only 18 seconds separating the two lead riders.
The Masters 50+ competition remains in the hands of Jim Matthews, whose first place finish in Stage 3 added an additional 34 minutes to his already dominating lead in GC. At the end of day three, Matthews has already gained over an hour on his closest competitor, John Williams. However, Williams’ position is not guaranteed, as third place finisher Joe McCarthy crossed the line only 30 seconds behind. Should Williams’ suffer and misfortune in the coming week, the seemingly unchanging GC could be disrupted.
Jon Firth and Drew Simson (TransRockies/Honey Stinger/Planet Foods, above) expanded their lead in the Duo Men category by over ten minutes today. The duo broke away early from the competition and continuously built their lead as the 42-mile stage progressed. Mike Festa and Craig Lebair (Philadelphia Ciclismo) worked hard to chase down their competitors, but were once again unable to reduce the gap and finished second in the stage. Matt Salter and Don Harmeyer (Catamount/1K2GO) finished third in today’s stage, but were unable to make up enough time to move up from their fourth place standing in the GC.
Kaarin Tae and Lawrence Plug (Java Blend) continued to control the Duo Coed with another first place finish in Stage 3 of the Trans-Sylvania Epic. However, team Crosshairs Cycling, consisting of Libbey Sheldon and Chris Merriam, finished only three minutes behind the Java Blend duo. Regardless, the Crosshairs Cycling team stands almost half an hour behind in the GC. Sean Riley and Elizabeth Shaner (Griggs Orthopedics) retain their third place standing in the GC after finishing third in the stage today.
The BMC Men’s U25 race was one of the most exciting of the day as five of the young men in this category traded positions throughout the race. Leader Cory Rimmer (Piney Flats Bicycle/Dean Endurance, above) and Zach Adams (Toasted Head) were the first contenders to emerge from the mist at the bottom of the SRAM/Bear Creek enduro at Penns View. Adams, the first recipient of the men’s enduro jersey, led Rimmer across the Poe Paddy railroad trestle with the race’s first U25 leader, Gunnar Bergey (Cannondale/Champion Systems/) and Logan Taylor (Logan Taylor), who are both taking part in the race on separate Epic Teams. Madison Matthews (The Bicycle Shop/MBR/Maxxis) suffered a flat on the first descent just a few miles into the race and was slowly reeling in the U25 leaders.
Across the challenging Krumrine Trail, Fisherman’s Path, and the ensuing flat pavement through Penns Valley Rimmer, Adams, Taylor, and Bergey rode together with Matthews to close the gap. As the group ascended the three-mile climb of Sieglerville-Millheim Pike, Taylor found his favored terrain and attacked the lead group. Bergey and Rimmer responded, and though they could not follow the Colorado based rider, the acceleration did leave Adams struggling to hold on. Just moments later, Matthews arrived from behind, resulting in another surge that dislodged Adams for good.
Though Rimmer, Bergey, and Matthews had numerical superiority, it was Logan whose speed increased to open a two-minute gap over the chase group in the final ten miles. Bergey was distanced by an acceleration from Matthews and Rimmer in the final enduro segment of the day, which allowed Rimmer to pad his GC lead slightly over the Cannondale/Champions Systems racer.
Tomorrow’s Enduro Stage could shake up the race more as Adams has proven a threat in the enduro segments all week and Matthews, a State College native, rides these trails almost weekly from home. The expectation is that the BMC U25 race is far from over.