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With humid temperatures hitting the 96-degree mark, Stage 2 of the Trans-Sylvania Epic melted apart in a long train of cooked riders. According to last year’s overall winner Jeremiah Bishop, the stage was juicy and rooty. “It was awesome in this old retro way,” he said after the finish. “Like in the old days when you went way back in the jungle for some swampy ride to do some stuff no one else does. Today was a backcountry ride.”
Action started quickly thanks to a long, rocky descent as soon as the neutral start ended. Jamis rider Adam Snyder was the first severed from the bunch with a flat tire. Then Cannondale’s Alex Grant experienced a smorgasbord of disaster that included a bent chain link, tweaked derailleur, busted spoke and a flat tire. “I felt great, unfortunately I was off my bike for about 30 minutes of the first hour of racing,” he said.
The women’s class was no less exciting. A moment of inattentiveness by Vicki Barclay (NoTubes/FTC/Performance Labs) sent her to the ground on the initial descent and Karen Potter (MTBRaceNews) briefly stopped to make sure she was uninjured. Potter then worked with Amanda Carey (Kenda/Felt) and Sue Haywood (Shenandoah Bikes/Kenda/Turner/I-9) to catch up to Team CF’s Selene Yeager who had already opened a small lead. Soon thereafter Barclay chased back to join the group on the next fireroad climb.
The men’s group consisted of Bishop, Barry Wicks and Kris Sneddon of Kona, Justin Lindine (BikeReg.com/Joe’s garage/Scott), Drew Edsall (Super Cool Bike Shop/Fastpaceracing), Jason Sager (Jamis), and Chris Beck (Team CF). At the top of the next major fireroad climb and near the midway point it was whittled to a group of five: Wicks. Sneddon, Bishop, Lindine and Sager. Wicks suffered a flat front tire and race leader Jeremiah Bishop broke his chain. (Read a first-hand account of Bishop’s race HERE.)
In the same singletrack section Yeager caught a stick in her rear wheel and had to stop while Barclay, Carey and Potter rode away. “I just rode my own pace after that,” she said. “I was kind of glad to be alone for a while and not have to respond to surges.” Her consistency paid off. She reeled in both Barclay and Potter and came close to catching winner Carey by the finish. Yeager now trails Carey by a mere 46 seconds overall on GC.
In men’s action Sneddon began to gap a fading Sager as Lindine, Edsall and Bishop, racing a prototype Scalpel 29’er for the first time, charged forward. As the fractured top five raced to the finish down the 8-mile fireroad to the finish an overheated Sager started sliding backwards leaving just Lindine and Edsill between a furiously charging Bishop and leader Sneddon. First to get caught was Edsall who temporarily held Bishop’s wheel before popping. Then it was Lindine’s turn as Bishop blew by. But Sneddon held on to take a long solo victory by about a minute and a half. But ultimately it wasn’t a large enough gap to topple Bishop from his top spot on GC heading into Stage 2.
Most if not all riders agreed that today was an extremely hard day in the saddle but tomorrow’s Bald Eagle Coburn stage is the longest of the week at 79km and temperatures are expected to be even hotter.