Photos and text courtesy of the Trans-Sylvania Epic Media Team
There’s only one stage to go after today’s action in the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race presented by Dirt Rag Magazine, so racing was fast and furious today as riders fought for 41 miles of the Queen Stage, which included plenty of climbing and a trip along the scenic Tussey Mountain ridgeline.
Riders only have a 26-mile stage tomorrow to close gaps and cement their positions in their general classifications, and as a result, many of the riders were taking more risks than they were earlier in the week. But with three SRAM Enduro sections and two long Bear Creek East Coast Rocks segments, some of the most technical trails in Pennsylvania were on the course today.
Jeremiah Bishop, above, (Sho-Air/Cannondale) and Mary McConneloug (Kenda/NoTubes) won stage 6 while Bishop and Cheryl Sornson (Rare Disease Cycling) defended their overall leads in the men’s and women’s standings.
“Game over!” Jeremiah Bishop laughed as he rolled in for first place in the stage today. The Sho-Air/Cannondale rider has been waiting all week for the Queen stage, and he used his endurance and stage racing background to take a dominant win after leading much of the race.
“The climbing wasn’t too bad, but the rocks were wicked! This stage has the most decisive rocky sections. I tried to use both to make the race hard from the gun. I wanted to drive the pace on a longer stage like this and crack the other guys,” Bishop said of his race strategy. “I’m super stoked!”
Behind Bishop and runner-up Payson McElveen (Richard’s Rainwater), an under 25 rider who didn’t count in the elite men’s standings, Nick Waite (ProTested Gear) rolled in just ahead of Kris Sneddon (Kona) for the official second and third places in the elite men’s category.
Waite’s result was a big move, since it put him well ahead of Kona’s Spencer Paxson in the overall classification. Going into today’s stage, they were separated by just one second in the standings.
Sneddon’s result also moved him ahead of his his teammate, as Paxson finished behind fifth placed NoTubes rider Ben Sonntag and sixth placed Cole Oberman (Rare Disease Cycling). “Hopefully, there’s a lot of space between those two [Kona] guys, so it’s not a war!” Waite joked.
“I knew today was the day,” said Bishop, echoing the sentiments of plenty of the other racers in the pack.
While Bishop is almost surely the overall winner, racing tomorrow will still be intense as riders chase a final stage win and work to sort out the top 10 places – plenty of riders can still shake up the standings!
Mary McConneloug (Kenda/NoTubes) took her first stage win of the week, coming in with almost a minute and a half on second and third places. Behind her, Cheryl Sornson, above, (Rare Disease Cycling) and Vicki Barclay (Stan’s NoTubes) came in together for second and third, respectively, and immediately rolled up to congratulate McConneloug on her win.
“I love my big wheels,” McConneloug said, happy to be back on her hardtail 29er for the day’s stage. She has swapped bikes a few times so far this week.
The three women had ridden together for most of the race, after McConneloug recovered from a disastrous morning and race start. “I threw up this morning,” said McConneloug of her unhappy stomach ahead of the start. Then, she took an early fall in the first singletrack section which set her far behind the race leaders. “But I had to keep going, one moment at a time. I totally stacked it, endo-ed, just lost the pack… Then I was like, ‘OK, time to get motivated.'”
Eventually McConneloug caught Barclay and Sornson.
“The crew out there is so awesome, and it was amazing riding in that pack [with Sornson and Barclay]. These girls are amazing,” said McConneloug, above, who launched her attack with two miles to go. Neither Sornson nor Barclay responded.
“I had already destroyed my legs so bad,” Sornson said, explaining why she did not follow McConneloug. Furthermore, neither Barclay nor McConneloug wanted to let the other away as Sornson worked to defend her overall lead and Barclay futilely tried to claw back time.
“It wasn’t super muddy, but it was sticking between all of my treads,” Barclay said of the technical sections. “I hate the road though!” The State College local has struggled against her rivals on the road sections all week, but with her local trail knowledge, she schools them in every singletrack section, especially the rocky ones.
A slightly disappointed and exhausted Selene Yeager (Rare Disease Cycling) rolled in ahead of Sarah Kaufmann (Stan’s NoTubes) for fourth and fifth places.
In the overall standings, Sornson maintained her lead heading into the final stage, while Barclay gained more control over the second place position.
“It’s a tough competition this year, for sure,” said overall leader Sornson.
U25 men and women
If Payson McElveen (Richard’s Rainwater) had signed up in the elite men’s category for the Epic, he would be sitting just behind overall race leader Jeremiah Bishop in the general classification. However, his Epic Team status means that he’ll have to be content with another dominant win in the BMC under 25 men’s field.
“Mostly, it was a day of perseverance for me,” McElveen said. “Near the beginning, there was an unbelievably steep climb. I got caught behind a couple people and had to get off and run, and got out-hiked and gapped off by the three leaders. Nick Waite, Jeremiah Bishop and Cole Oberman were out of sight. So I took a lot of risks on the descent and caught back up again. I almost died a couple times.”
Behind McElveen, Cole Oberman, above, (Rare Disease Cycling), yesterday’s overall stage winner, finished sixth in the stage and second in the BMC Under 25 men’s field.
“I was just going for it,” McElveen said of his win over Oberman to cement his GC placing.
In the BMC Under 25 men’s overall standings, McElveen has all but wrapped up the race, though Oberman isn’t far behind. There might be an upset for third between Cameron Dodge (Pure Energy Scott Elite Team) and Madison Matthews (Toasted Head Racing) in tomorrow’s race, so the podium is far from set in stone.
In the BMC Under 25 Women’s race, Emily Shields, above, (BMC Project Dirt) underscored her lead in the overall standings for the women by taking the win. “I was afraid Kaysee [Armstrong] was going to catch me on the East Coast Rocks section, or then on the enduro,” she said at the finish. “They were so close together, and my arms were just done!”
“It was really tiring,” Shields said of the stage. “I had a good start, and on the first enduro segment, I caught the two women’s leaders. I stayed with them awhile, but I knew I couldn’t keep that up. Then I was riding with Mary [McConneloug] and Vicki [Barclay] for awhile. When we hit the first checkpoint, I knew I had a good gap but I wanted to get as much time as I could going into the East Coast Rocks section.”
Kaysee Armstrong (Kona/TBB Race) came in for second in the stage, with Ellen Noble (Bear Development Team) in third, mimicking their positions on the overall BMC Under 25 women’s standings.
Tristan Uhl (787 Racing) once again posted the fastest times for all of the day’s SRAM Enduro segments, thus further securing his first place rank overall in the competition. Aaron Snyder (TSEpic.com/NoTubes) remained solidly in second, while Michael Broderick’s efforts kept him in third. The consistent finishes produced no changes in the overall rankings for the enduro competition.
Kaysee Armstrong (Kona/TVB Race) focused her attention today on the women’s enduro competition, and as a result was able to take first place in the stage results. Carolyn Popovic finished second in the day, while Ellen Noble (Bear Development Team) finished third. Armstrong’s strong performance was enough to move her into second place in the overall competition behind leader Popovic.
Only a single SRAM Enduro segment remains in tomorrow’s final stage.
East Coast Rocks
Today’s stage 6 contained two Bear Creek East Coast Rocks segments for riders to contest. After adding today’s timed segments, Mike Broderick (Kenda/NoTubes) overtook former leader Cody Phillips (Felt Factory Enduro Team) for the overall lead in the enduro competition. Broderick leads the competition by a mere 13 seconds. The close gap will certainly inspire some aggressive riding during tomorrow’s final East Coast Rocks timed segment.
Mary McConneloug (Kenda/NoTubes) continues to dominate the women’s competition, holding a five-minute lead over second place. However, Carolyn Popovic (Rare Disease Cycling) dropped to third place after Elizabeth Allen (Danielson Adventure Sports) gained enough time to take over the second place standing.
The singlespeed class experienced a significant shake-up today as race leader Matt Ferrari (FreezeThaw/Hubcap Cycles) crashed hard and had to go to the emergency room instead of to the finish. After being diagnosed with a broken ass, Ferrari had to drop out of the race and will not return for tomorrow’s stage.
In Ferrari’s absence, Rich Dillen, above, (Faster Mustache) put in an incredible effort to take first place in today’s stage. John Merriam (Crosshairs Cycling) finished second, trailing Dillen by over two minutes, while Scott Smith (TVB Race/Tomato Head) came in third.
With Ferrari removed from the overall standings, Kurt Gensheimer, above, (Ibis), also known as “The Angry Singlespeeder” moved to first place in the overall singlespeed competition. Dillen now stands in second place, but trails Gensheimer by over half an hour. Smith remains 20 minutes behind Dillen for third place.
Nathan Ruch (Pure Energy Scott Elite Team) scored another win in the BikeFlights.com Masters 40+ category today. Javier Lopez (Rock Mountain Bike Life) and Nathan Goates displayed strong form to take second and third, respectively.
The overall standings for the BikeFlights.com Masters 40+ field remain unchanged, with Ruch in first, Steve Mee in second, and Mike Hebe (Team Novo Nordisk) in third. However, Lopez’s strong ride moved him up to fourth place in the overall standings, only two minutes behind third placed Hebe.
Alex Hawkins rode to a strong first place stage finish in today’s Masters 50+ field, finishing five and a half minutes ahead of race leader Jim Matthews (Toasted Head Racing). Matthews held a comfortable gap over third place finisher Rick Landry (speedriver.com).
The overall Masters 50+ standings remain unchanged, with Matthews leading the race followed by Hawkins in second and Landry in third. However, Hawkins finish today reduced his time deficit to Matthews to only 10 minutes.
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.
Click to download a spreadsheet:
Stage 7 Preview
The NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic wraps up on the seventh day with a final visit to the Bald Eagle State Forest. A slightly shortened stage of 26 miles offers super fun singletrack sections and two final enduro segments to sort out the enduro classification. It is a stage that is raced hard by some but will be a rolling party for others as everyone closes out an incredible week of riding and camaraderie. Then we’ll celebrate!
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.