Photos and text courtesy of the Trans-Sylvania Epic Media Team
For some, the 26-mile final stage of the NoTubes’ Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race presented by Dirt Rag was a party day. But for race leaders and overall podium contenders, today was for the final hours of serious racing before riders crossed the finish line and collapsed with exhaustion.
The day also saw a Spectator Spectacle section of the course, complete with a full blow-up arch over the rocky singletrack trail and plenty of hecklers, some in costume, there to cheer on racers throughout the day. Liz Allen, above, started the day with a rocket pack.
Finally, though, the race was over and Jeremiah Bishop (Sho-Air/Cannondale) and Cheryl Sornson (Rare Disease Cycling) were crowned overall winners in the elite men’s and elite women’s categories while Bishop and Selene Yeager (Rare Disease Cycling) celebrated the final day’s stage wins.
For a man who professed that today’s stage would be a bit of a relaxed-pace victory lap, Jeremiah Bishop, above, was clearly working hard, first with the lead group, and then attacking on a climb mid-way and soloing to an impressive finish.
“It was just one of those things,” he said. “I thought people would have fun, ride quick and maybe sprint to the finish, but Cole [Oberman] attacked from the gun. I was hurting, so bad. I made the lead group, but barely.”
After Nick Waite (ProTested Gear) began attacking, Bishop again struggled to stay in the lead group. But following the checkpoint, when they again hit more singletrack, he started to feel good.
“On a climb, the diesel kicked in, and I wanted to put some pressure on these guys and ride my pace,” said Bishop. “But my pace ended up being faster.” So Bishop went and was never seen again.
Behind him, the under 25 Rare Disease Cycling rider Cole Oberman battled with NoTube’s Ben Sonntag for second place, and while Oberman’s gap seemed solid six miles from the finish, Sonntag was able to overtake him and snatch second place.
Behind Oberman, past winner Justin Lindine, above at left, (Redline) came back from a bad luck streak to take fourth place, leading the chase group containing Waite and Spencer Paxson (Kona).
Bishop took the overall victory — his 12th consecutive North American stage race win — after leading for all seven days of the race. It was the fourth time he won the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic – he is undefeated here.
“I had good luck,” said Bishop. “It’s unbelievable. It feels great to be done!”
Behind him in the final classification, his training partner Waite claimed second while Paxson took third. Sonntag and Oberman rounded out the top five.
Unfortunately, Kris Sneddon (Kona), who was sitting third overall with one stage remaining, was unable to contend today’s stage due to illness. He withdrew from today’s stage and therefore dropped out of the standings entirely.
Selene Yeager (Rare Disease Cycling) earned her first stage win of the week, coming in with teammate and race leader Cheryl Sornson, above. Although it wasn’t part of the pre-race plan, the two found themselves together all day, and while Sornson had a comfortable lead in the overall standings, Yeager was motivated to make sure that her third place overall was secure, since she had entered the stage with only four minutes on yesterday’s stage winner Mary McConneloug (Kenda/NoTubes).
“I was the only one who had anything to lose this morning,” Yeager said. “I figured I could hold it, but things happen. I was just going to stay with Mary, but I was feeling really good, so I thought I had better just go, in case I flatted or something. Then I saw Cheryl and we stayed together, and that’s all she wrote!”
“It wasn’t a plan,” Sornson said. “It just kind of worked out.”
“We knew we had a gap so figured we should just go,” Yeager said.
Sornson and Yeager finish a lap around the lake.
Behind the two, Vicki Barclay (Stan’s NoTubes) finished solo in third, and McConneloug came in for fourth, and while NoTubes’ racer Sarah Kaufmann suffered a mechanical, she was able to hold her overall position.
In the final standings, Sornson won while Barclay stayed comfortably in second place overall and Yeager maintained her lead over McConneloug for third overall, with Kaufmann in fifth.
“I didn’t come in expecting to win, it wasn’t easy, and I am more than thrilled,” a beaming Sornson said.
U25 men and women
Cole Oberman (Rare Disease Cycling) exploded from the line, gunning for a stage win this morning.
“I couldn’t help it,” he later said, citing his animal instincts. After all, after six stages of go-go-go, it’s hard to remind your legs to take it easy. He earned second overall in the final stage, and took the BMC Under 25 men’s stage win over his main competitor, Payson McElveen (Richard’s Rainwater MTB Racing).
“It’s been great feeling my legs the past three days,” Oberman said. “After that next gravel climb, I tried to be first on the trail, and Ben Sonntag and I just battled the rest of the way in, but he ended up getting me on this last little bit of singletrack.”
Despite Oberman’s steady rise in the ranking among the elite men, and his stage win on Thursday, it wasn’t enough to wrest the BMC Under 25 title from McElveen. And so, in the final under 25 men’s standings, McElveen’s victory was secured after leading for seven days, while Oberman comfortably took second place. Behind them, Cameron Dodge (Pure Energy Scott Elite Team) and Cory Rimmer finished third and fourth, respectively.
“I’m really happy to be done,” said McElveen. “Today was tough mentally because I already had a big lead and I had trouble motivating. I actually cramped before the start — I was so done today!”
This has been McElveen’s longest stage race, and he’s already thinking about next year — and coming back to try for the elite men’s overall title.
Earlier in the week, the under 25 women’s race was the only category that had any movement in it, starting with Ellen Noble (Bear Development Team) in the lead, then Kaysee Armstrong (Kona/TBB Race), and finally, on Wednesday, a win by Emily Shields, above, (BMC Project Dirt) that kept her out front for the rest of the week.
Today’s final BMC Under 25 women’s race was no different, and Shields again took the win. This was also her first stage race, and only her second season of mountain biking, and not only has did she win among the under 25 women, but she finished an impressive sixth overall in the elite women’s classification.
“It was pretty exhausting,” a tired Shields said. “I was just trying to be done!”
Behind her in the race, Armstrong came in for second, with Noble in third. The positions for the overall standings remained unchanged for the young women, with Shields taking the overall title, followed by Armstrong and Noble.
“I thought it would be closer,” Shields said, still surprised at her overall win. “I’ve never done anything like this at all! But this week has been amazing, it’s been a great race and great practice for starts especially, since we start hard with the men every day!”
In the final SRAM Enduro segment of the race, Colt McElwaine upset the field with a first place finish that was 30 seconds faster than second place finisher Tristan Uhl (787 Racing). The stage win was not enough to shake up the overall standings, as Uhl held the overall lead to win the men’s competition. Aaron Snyder (TSEpic.com/NoTubes) finished second in the competition, with Michael Broderick (Kenda/NoTubes) just 45 points behind in third place.
Ellen Noble (Bear Development Team) took the stage 7 win in the women’s competition, with a finishing time 21 seconds faster than second place Carolyn Popovic. However, Popovic came out as the winner of the enduro competition with a substantial points lead. Kaysee Armstrong (Kona/TVB Race) was second overall, while Mary McConneloug rounded out the podium in third.
East Coast Rocks
After taking a 13-second lead yesterday in the Bear Creek East Coast Rocks competition, Michael Broderick (Kenda/NoTubes) fell back to second place as Cody Phillips (Felt Factory Enduro Team) put in an incredible effort to win the overall competition by 22 seconds. Michael Wissell (B2C2/Boloco) finished in third for the timed competition.
In the women’s field, Mary McConneloug (Kenda/NoTubes) held on to her strong lead to win the overall competition, while Elizabeth Allen (Danielson Adventure Sports) finished in second and Carolyn Popovic (Rare Disease Cycling) ended up in third.
In the final stage of the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic, the singlespeed class decided to ride the stage casually as opposed to putting in typical race efforts. As a result, all of the singlespeeders finished the stage within 10 seconds of each other, with Chris Merriam in first, Scott Smith (TVB Race/Tomato Head) in second, and John Merriam (Crosshairs Cycling) in third.
With no changes in the overall standings resulting from today’s stage, “The Angry Singlespeeder” Kurt Gensheimer, above, (Ibis) remained the singlespeed winner of the 2014 Trans-Sylvania Epic. Rich Dillen (Faster Mustache) finished second in the seven-day race, trailing Gensheimer by half an hour, while Smith finished in third.
Nathan Goates rode strong to take the BikeFlights.com Masters 40+ stage win on the last day of the Trans-Sylvania Epic. In another late-race effort, Javier Lopez (Rock Mountain Bike Life) followed close behind the leader to finish second, trailing Goates by only seven seconds. David Thompson (Cycle Smart) took third place for the day.
Nathan Ruch (Pure Energy Scott Elite Team) came into the final stage with a substantial lead in the overall standings. The lead proved unbeatable today, allowing Ruch to take the overall victory in the BikeFlights.com Masters 40+ field. Steve Mee finished second in the overall standings, while Lopez’s strong performance boosted him from fourth to third in the overall competition.
After his disappointing disqualification in 2013, Jim Matthews (Toasted Head Racing) returned this year to the Masters 50+ field dedicated to redeeming last year’s error. Matthews put in a strong effort to win the final stage by 13 minutes over second place Rick Landry (speedriver.com). Adam Linstedt finished in third place just a minute and a half after Landry.
With strong performances all week, Matthews held a substantial lead throughout the week to win the overall Masters 50+ competition. Despite a weaker result on the final stage, Hawkins retained his second place overall position, while Landry finished the week in third place.
Andres Correa and Juan Ernesto Champsaur, racers from Panama, at the finish line.
See all our coverage of the 2014 Trans-Sylvania Epic here.
Daily video coverage
Click here to view a video of stage 6 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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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.