Forty seven miles and more than 5,000 feet of elevation gain on wide open gravel, paved and dirt roads made for a fast and attack-fueled Stage 3 at the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic. The attacks came early and often and left the men’s field strewn across the Pennsylvania countryside.
With little singletrack to break up today’s stage, a group of close to forty riders formed on the opening rolling roads with attacks from Jon Davis (40+, Trek Store Boulder Racing), Stephan Kincaid (NoTubes/AXA) and Matthys Buekes (Cannondale South Africa) coming to naught as the five-mile descent of Sieglerville-Millheim Pike brought the group together again. Only the Duo Team of Mike Festa and Craig Lebair (Philly Ciclismo/Trans-Sylvania Epic) missed the move of those in the hunt for their respective GC titles as a flat on the first singletrack of the stage had them chasing all day.
Buekes was not deterred by the unwillingness of the group to let him go and looked to show his strength on a course more similar to those back home. As Buekes rolled away, above, before the first feedzone those behind seemed unfazed with Barry Wicks (Kona Bikes), Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale), Drew Edsall (Kenda/Felt), Justine Lindine (Redline), Aaron Snyder (SCOTT) and the rest of the contenders taking their time through the feed. Included in this group was Tim Johnson (Cannondale) who came in as part of an Epic Team, fresh off a four day stint at the Killington Stage Race. As the realization that the South African was on a mission dawned on the rest the chase began in earnest and by the time what was left of the field rolled through the historic Poe Valley train tunnel only six racer remained in the front group.
The lead in to the climb of Penn’s View, the hardest of the stage, saw Cory Wallace (Kona Bikes) put the screws to the group to set up an attack for his team mate. Wicks’ attack did not shed Bishop but succeeded in separating the leading duo from the rest of the group with Buekes and Johnson forming next on the road trailed by Wallace, Edsall, and Cary Smith (Team CF).
With two two kilometers to go on one of the final rollers of the stage Wicks, who had been on the front for six miles, put in a final surge and inch by inch clawed ground from Bishop. One foot, then two, then three and a with a brief look under his arm Wicks saw he had a gap. Wicks stood and a final acceleration, below, saw the elastic snap as Bishop did all he could to control his adversary.
A final sandy descent and push to the line and Wicks had claimed another 20 seconds in an increasingly tight GC competition. Behind Buekes pulled away from Johnson to finish third while Johnson’s fourth place pulled back a big chunk of time in the Epic Team category. Lindine rolled in fourth and fifth place was claimed by Wallace.
The women’s race has come down to a one-on-one battle between Cheryl Sornson (Team CF, above) and Sue Haywood (NoTubes) in the GC. The two spent much of the day watching each other before a late attack through the finishing trail from Haywood clawed back several seconds in the GC battle. Dejay Birtch (Niner/Ergon), winner of the singlespeed category on today’s stage, spent much of the day riding with these two women and commented, "I got to ride with Cheryl and Sue and watched them slug it out all day long. One would go, the other would respond. They marked each other all day." With tomorrows bumps and berms of Allegrippis seemingly favoring the talents of Haywood the GC battle is still far from resolved. Haywood’s NoTubes team mate Jenny Smith rode solidly into third on the stage and holds third on the GC.
The Breck Epic/NoTubes Duo of Jake Wells and Dax Massey, above, continued to pull away in the Duo Men category where the main drama was an early flat that had yesterday’s second on GC duo of Mike Festa and Craig Lebair (Philly Ciclismo) chasing all day and dropping to fourth overall. While in the Coed Duo race the squad of Juan Garcia and Trish Grajczy of JCTracing/Deadgoat continued their dominance of the event with a third stage win in a row.
Jonathan Davis (Trek Bike Store Boulder Racing) pulled out a stage win over Zeke Hersh (Honey Stinger/Bontrager/Breck Epic) marking the third different winner in this category though Hersh maintains the lead in the GC with Kenneth Wehn (NoTubes Elite Masters) in 3rd. Jim Matthews of State College, PA and the MBR/The Bicycle Shop squad earned a third straight win in the 50+ Masters category trailed home by Scott Thomson and Team CFs Jim Wilson.
The Epic Team competition became a little more interesting for all competitors as Tim Johnson, above, made a midnight run after completing the Killington Stage Race yesterday in order to participate in the rest of the Trans-Sylvania Epic stages on his Volkswagen/People For Bikes/Cannondale/NoTubes team. While Johnson’s entrance into the race adds a whole new element to the competition he faces a 32 minute deficit to the Team CF crew of Nate Cross, Jack Dalzell, Jesse Kelly, Chip Meek and Kaitlyn Broadhurst with only four stages to go.
The Allegrippis trail network at Raystown Lake rides like a mountain bike roller coaster and may be the fastest singletrack race course anywhere. This playground welcomes the Trans-Sylvania Epic Wednesday.