Trans-Sylvania Epic RB Winter Stage
Men's stage comes down to one second between top three; Yeager edges Rusch
The idea of "mini-xcs" was an unfamiliar one for the participants of the TSE and one met with perhaps a bit of skepticism by many. Promoter Mike Kuhn recognized this fact stating, "We don't know that this will work, but we think this is going to be something everyone loves after they give it a try." After ripping through the four 8-15 minute long races of varying degrees of elevation change and techincal challenge the racers couldn't stop raving about the fun factor and tasty flavor of this unique stage.
The novel format allowed regrouping of the field after each leg. Riders from professional racer Alex Grant (CFR) to Masters competitor Alec Petro (Team Psycho) to single speeder Rich Dillon (Team DICKY) commented on the 'cool factor' of being able to socialize with riders of other ability levels who they would not normally see in a race. Jeremiah Bishop (CFR) showed his class by floating around the field chatting with riders from the front to the back on the transitional sections between the stages.
Once into the minis however the CFR racers let it all hang out. Grant and Bishop tied on time for the victory showcasing their versatility and that of their Cannondale rigs. Grant chose the Scalpel for today's stage looking for it to give him an advantage on the punchy climbs that led into the singletrack descents while Bishop went with the bigger travel Rize looking for it's longer travel to soak up the rocks of the raw RB Winter trails. Bishop prevailed for the win by taking three of the mini-xc legs while Grant came home with victory in one. Rounding out today's podium was Jamis rider Blake Harlan who showed his love of the xc race start by jumping to the front on every mini and holding on to finish just 1 second behind the two CFR team mates. While Bishop leads by a relatively comfortable margin the fight for the remaining podium spots is tight with Tanguay (Team CF), Plews (evanplews.com), Draugelis (PAValleys.com) and Grant all within 5 minutes of each other with two longer stages to go.
Yeager (Team CF) opened up her lead a little more in the women's overall with victory in the RB stage, but Rusch (Specialized) didn't go down without a fight. The two women split the minis down the middle each across the line first on two occasions. The stopwatch showed Yeager taking the victory by virtue of accumulated time. Rusch finished second while Potter (MTBRaceNews.com) came home in third.
Greg Martin continued his run in the singlespeed category with a win while the Misfit duo of Marc Risdale and Kim Jones claimed the win and overall in the duo field. In the Master's race Garth Prosser continues to lead the GC but has a fight on his hands with Alec Petro who won today's stage and made up close to four minutes on Prosser in the minis. The Lichtenwalners continue to dominate their one-tandem field and continue to impress the rest of the racers with their abilities in the technical terrain.
The mix of stages has riders raving about how the TSE gives everyone a chance to shine on one day but may well challenge a rider's weakness dramatically on the next. The format keeps the racing exciting and tactical and adds elements rarely seen in the mountain bike stage race world.