Photos and text courtesy of the Trans-Sylvania Epic Media Team
Wednesday’s stage 4 is often referred to as the “road stage” of the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race presented by Dirt Rag Magazine. However, massive thunderstorms rolling in the previous night and rain all morning made for a messy start. As one racer explained post-race, covered helmet to toe in grime, “I had sunglasses on. For about 10 seconds. Then I took them off and was just blinking out mud the entire time.” Thankfully, ProGold was on the scene to provide a much-needed bike wash for racers’ equipment after the stage.
Under 25 Payson McElveen, above, (Richard’s Rainwater) was the first man across the finish line of stage 4 at the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic – surprising the more experienced pro racers. As the first person to finish in the elite men’s category, Nick Waite (ProTested Gear), in second place, officially took the solo pro men’s win in the stage while Cheryl Sornson (Rare Disease Cycling) topped the women’s results. Jeremiah Bishop (Sho-Air/Cannondale) and Sornson defended their yellow leader’s jerseys for another day.
Kona’s Kris Sneddon enters the Coburn Tunnel.
With Under 25 rider Payson McElveen (Richard’s Rainwater) not counted in the elite men’s standings of stage 4 at the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic, Nick Waite (ProTested Gear) was credited with the elite men’s stage win. McElveen is technically entered in the race as a member of an Epic Team rather than as a solo racer and thus does not count toward the solo men’s standings.
McElveen finished a few seconds ahead of Waite, and both were just ahead of current overall race leader Jeremiah Bishop (ShoAir/Cannondale).
“At the very end, Nick started throwing down some attacks on the road, and everyone was on the limit,” McElveen said. “But no one except Jeremiah knew that there was another seven-minute climb to the finish!”
“That was the hardest climb of the day!” Waite interjected.
It wasn’t until the final singletrack in the last 500m that McElveen got a gap. “It was just full-on moto-skidding through turns,” he said, “and I got lucky because Jeremiah and Nick skidded and got off-line a bit, so I squeaked around them in a turn.”
That same turn allowed Waite to slip around Bishop, too. “I fumbled, but he really blew the turn,” said Waite, who fended off Bishop the rest of the way until the finish.
“It was all motor. Everyone was just on the rivet,” said Waite, who is Bishop’s Harrisonburg, Virginia, training buddy.
Behind the leaders, a four-man sprint determined third place in the stage, and Thomas Turner (Jamis) took the third spot over another under 25 racer Cole Oberman (Rare Disease Cycling), Spencer Paxson (Kona) and Peter Glassford, at the front above, (Trek Canada).
The race finish today highlighted the most intense battle of the week, for second spot on the podium, between Paxson and Waite.
Bishop defended his lead in the overall race standings, and Paxson holds the lead over Waite for second by 45 seconds.
Race overall leader Cheryl Sornson, above, (Rare Disease Cycling) again underlined her control of the women’s race with a dominant stage 4 win over Mary McConneloug (Kenda/NoTubes). The two spent most of the race together until one of the last singletrack sections separated them and Sornson took the lead.
Selene Yeager (Rare Disease Cycling) came in for third, with NoTubes Elite Women’s teammates Vicki Barclay and Sarah Kaufmann separated behind in fourth and fifth respectively.
“Mary and I were together until the last hill, then I got her right before the start of the double singletrack climb,” said Sornson, a past race winner who hails from Pennsylvania.
“I just wanted to get as much time back into the GC as I could,” McConneloug said. Heading into stage 4, she was sitting in fourth, 18 minutes down from Sornson. “Racing with these women has been an honor!”
As for the experiences of racing World Cups and seven-day stage races, McConneloug, an Olympian, said, “It’s so different.” She highlighted local terrain knowledge and equipment choices as major learning curves for her at the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race.
U25 men and women
As the first racer across the finish line, Payson McElveen (Richard’s Rainwater) won both the overall stage and therefore also the BMC Under 25 field.
“I kind of had my eye on this stage, but—oh God—this was so hard,” McElveen said, panting to catch his breath after the finish.
Cole Oberman (Rare Disease Cycling), McElveen’s closest competition in the GC, finished in the four-man group behind him for a second place finish in the BMC U25 category while Cameron Dodge rolled in for third.
While McElveen is all but certain to win the overall BMC U25 race, barring a major upset in the field, he admitted that he’s kicking himself a bit for not signing up for the solo men’s category, since a podium in that GC would be within his grasp. However, the Epic Team category racer is still happy to be leading the way for his Epic Team (ColtsTrainingSystems) to help keep them ahead in the team standings.
In the BMC Under 25 Women’s race, the GC had a complete upset, thanks to a stage 4 win by Emily Shields (BMC Project Dirt) today.
“I’ve raced road a lot longer than I’ve raced mountain bikes,” she said, and this road stage proved to be her best of the week.
Shields overcame her deficit in the overall standings to take over the lead ahead from previous race leader Kaysee Armstrong (Kona/TBB Race).
In today’s SRAM Enduro classification, Tristan Uhl (787 Racing) continued to dominate the timed courses and expanded his points lead over second place Aaron Snyder, above, (TSEpic.com/NoTubes). Uhl recorded the fastest time on the first enduro segment, and the second and third fastest on the next two respective segments. Thomas Turner (Team Jamis) came in third after posting the fastest time on the final enduro segment of the day.
However, today’s results did not change the overall standings in the men’s enduro competition. Uhl remains in first and now has a 50-point lead over second place Snyder. Michael Broderick stays in third place, but his 10-point gap from second grew to 145 points.
After finishing third place in yesterday’s enduro stage results, Carolyn Popovic (Rare Diseases Cycling) returned today in great form. Popovic recorded two first place times and one second place time in the three enduro segments from today’s stage. The strong results pushed Popovic to first place in the overall standings, leading second place Kaysee Armstrong (Kona/TBB Race) by 85 points. Mary McConneloug also posted strong results in today’s enduro competition, finishing second in the stage and moving up to third in the overall standings.
Tomorrow’s stage at R. B. Winter State Park will contain four enduro segments that will provide racers plenty of opportunities to battle for the overall enduro victory.
East Coast Rocks
With no Bear Creek East Coast Rocks segments in today’s stage 4, the overall standings remain unchanged. Mary McConneloug leads, with Cheryl Sornson in second. The competition will continue tomorrow with an East Coast Rocks segment on White Deer Creek Trail in R. B. Winter State Park.
Matt Ferrari (FreezeThaw/Hubcap Cycles) had no trouble defending his leaders jersey in today’s singlespeed race. Early in the race, Ferrari caught the wheel of women’s leader Cheryl Sornson and stayed with her through the first half of the race. The effort resulted in a 20-minute gain over second place singlespeeder Kurt “The Angry Singlespeeder” Gensheimer (Ibis). Scott Smith, above, (TVB Race/Tomato Head) rode to a third place finish.
The overall singlespeed standings remain unchanged from yesterday, with Ferrari in first, Gensheimer in second, and Rich Dillen (Faster Mustache) in third. However, Scott Smith gained significant time over Dillen in today’s stage and the two are separated by only three minutes in the overall standings.
David Thompson (Cycle Smart) returned to the podium today with a first place finish in the BikeFlights.com Masters 40+ competition. Thompson finished over five and half minutes ahead of second place Nathan Ruch (Pure Energy Scott Elite Team). Steve Mee followed shortly behind for third place. Mike Hebe, typically in the top three, ceded almost half an hour to today’s stage winner. Hebe’s performance was partially due to a rough crash from yesterday’s enduro stage.
Today’s results caused no changes in the overall standings for the BikeFlights.com Masters 40+ field. Ruch retained his first place standing, while Mee and Hebe remained in second and third, respectively. However, Hebe’s atypical stage finish now places him 20 minutes behind Mee in the overall standings. Ruch and Mee are still very close in the overall standings, separated by two and a half minutes.
Though a close race, the Masters 50+ field saw no large changes after today’s stage. Jim Matthews (Toasted Head Racing) rode to another stage victory today. Alex Hawkins finished in second, just one minute behind Matthews.
Despite a close finish in the day’s stage, the overall Masters 50+ standings remain spread out. Jim Matthews holds his first place position with a 15-minute gap over second place Alex Hawkins. Rick Landry (speedriver.com) sits in third place, over fifty minutes behind Hawkins.
See all our coverage of the 2014 Trans-Sylvania Epic here.
Daily video coverage
Click here to view a video of stage 4 race coverage.
Track top riders
The NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race, partnered with event tracking provider Trackleaders.com, device maker SPOT LLC and Stan’s NoTubes, is the first stage race in North America to be testing the use of tracking devices for top racers. Visit TSEpic.com to follow racers via SPOT tracking during each stage.
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Stage 5 Preview
Easton/XLC presents BEMBA’s Escape to R.B. Winter State Park
The Easton/XLC presented by BEMBA’s Escape to R.B. Winter State Park stage of the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic may rekindle fond memories of favorite East Coast Old School riding at its best. The route travels through a lightly used area that is among the most picturesque riding in Pennsylvania, and old tram trails from early 20th century logging cuts will leave riders with a new understanding of babyhead rocks.
Black Gap Trail is hard for riders to forget and for those who’ve experienced it, White Deer Creek Trail ranks among the top 10 trails in Pennsylvania. R.B. Winter State Park is a beautiful park with a cold, spring-fed lake at the finish to cool riders off. There will be four enduro segments with a wide variety of features.
The NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic presented by Dirt Rag Magazine is made possible with the generous support of BMC, Pactimo, Hammer Nutrition, Red Bull, Purple Lizard and Freeze Thaw Cycles. For more information, visit OutdoorExperience.org or TSEpic.com; follow on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.