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Trans-Sylvania Epic: Bishop, Carey Leading

Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale Factory Racing) begins his title defense at the Trans-Sylvania Epic with a win in the prologue. A.E.Landes Photography/TSE 2011 www.aelandesphotography.com


The second annual Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race kicked off Sunday with a 12.5-mile prologue in hot and humid conditions.

Drama started early when (Trek/SRAM/Easton/Giro/Pearl) rider Ross Schnell showed up to State College yesterday sans race bike. A case of lost luggage left him with just a race kit and jersey. Luckily a fellow racer loaned him shoes and race promoter Mike Kuhn handed over his personal bike so Schnell could ride the day. In another near miss, Team CF’s Chris Beck almost missed his start. In his usual “rockstar” fashion Beck raced through though the start ramp and pulled onto the course without missing a beat and loosing only one second, according to TSE timing.
Cannondale’s Jeremiah Bishop dominated the day with a winning time of 47:56 but the big story was notable Boston cyclocross racer Justin Lindine (BikeReg.com/Joe’s garage/Scott) who took second less than four minutes back.

For the women Karen Potter (MTBRaceNews) took the surprising win over defending champion Selene Yeager (Team CF), less than a minute back.

Yeager, Carey, Potter and Rich O'Neil share the work on Lingle Valley Rd.

Stage 1, May 30

With humid temperatures hitting the 96-degree mark the Coopers Gap Stage of the Trans-Sylvania Epic melted apart in a long train of cooked riders.

Action started quickly thanks to a long, rocky descent as soon as the neutral start ended. Jamis rider Adam Snyder was the first to be severed from the bunch with a flat tire at the bottom before Cannondale’s Alex Grant experienced a smorgasbord of disaster.

“I felt great, unfortunately I was off my bike for about 30 minutes of the first hour of racing,” he said. ” First I dropped my chain so I put it back on but a link was bent. I took it out but that made my chain too short so when I bottomed my suspension it tweaked the derailleur and it eventually shifted into my spokes and broke one. Then that spoke pushed through my tubeless rim tape and I flatted so I ran my bike to the next check point.”

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. At this point each open class had its leaders grouped together.

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), who at one point was up to fourth before fading.

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 upped the pace and Sneddon fell off. Eventually the group slowed and Sneddon caught back just before Wicks suffered a flat front tire.

Then race leader Jeremiah Bishop was the next to suffer a mechanical. “I broke my chain due to my own stupid cross-chaining,” he said. “I tried to do a BMX style pass on Lindine as we jumped into the singletrack but I severed my chain off when I accelerated.”

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. So close that 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 29er for the first time, charged forward. As the fractured top-five raced to the finish down the eight mile fireroad to the finish an overheated Sager started sliding backwards leaving just Lindine and Edsall 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 it was Sneddon’s day. He held on to take a long solo victory by about a minute and a half.

Ultimately it wasn’t a big enough gap to topple Bishop from his top spot on GC heading into Stage 2.

Most if not all riders agreed that Monday was an extremely hard day in the saddle but Tuesday’s Bald Eagle Coburn stage is the longest of the week at 79km and temperatures are expected to be even hotter.

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