Two years of frustrating stages and mechanical issues were put behind him as Justine Lindine (Redline, pictured above) extended his overall lead in the second stage of the 2013 NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic.
Tuesday’s stage, the Dirt Rag/ProGold Coburn Stage, is a mainstay of the Trans-Sylvania Epic and has traditionally altered the racer’s focus from technical single-track skill to tactical acumen with a more open course that encourages group racing tactics. However, a reversal of the classic routing takes what were formerly leg searing rocky climbs and transformed them into blazing fast, gnarly descents that offer an entirely different look to the stage.
A neutral roll-out to the start line gave little indication of the aggression to come as riders enjoyed the comfortable temps and beautiful, bright sunshine at the start of the Coopers Gap stage of this year’s Trans-Sylvania Epic. The mass start at the bottom of the Stillhouse climb left nothing to the imagination as Sam Koerber (ProGold) announced he was here to contend for the overall victory with an early attempt to open a gap on the contenders.
A strong group, consisting of Brian Matter (RACC/Trek/ProGold), Aaron Snyder (TSEpic.com/NoTubes), Drew Edsall (Kenda/Felt), Phil Grove (Hammer Nutrition), Michael Wissel (B2C2/Boloco), Koerber and Lindine, came together on the run into the rock strewn, single-track, benchcut climb on No-Name Trail where the group splintered apart.
Koerber continued his aggression and showed his prowess on the technical ridgetop of Chicken Peter Trail, arriving in the first checkpoint with a one-minute lead on Matter (pictured above), Lindine, and Edsall, while Snyder trailed by another minute.
The long single-track climb of Peep and the day’s first SRAM/Bear Creek Enduro Segment on PigPile Trail—an opportunity for fast descenders to take home a leader’s jersey all their own—allowed Lindine and Matter to rejoin Koerber at the front. This reunion may have been aided by a bobble on the part of Koerber, one that resulted in not only lost time, but the loss of a nice chunk of his front tooth. In the rocking and rolling sweet smooth lines of the Sassy Spur and Sassy-xx trails, the trio increased their lead to more than five minutes over the Edsall and Snyder pair.
Koerber, battered from his earlier encounter with Pennsylvania’s rocks, but by no means beaten, used his technical skills honed from thousands of hours in the trails of Pisgah to push through the battle. Matter was the first to leave the fight as a flat tire took him away from the lead group and at the stage victory. Lindine was not dislodged on this second SRAM/Bear Creek enduro run and took control of the race.
Koerber faced his demise on the stiff gravel climb of Crowfield Road rising from Penn Roosevelt State Park as Lindine steadily opened a gap on his closest pursuer and continued building his lead through a final, fern-enshrouded double-track to the finish line. On his defeat, Koerber noted, “It’s going to be a battle; I’m not one to give up. I’m going to make it hurt every day. I’m going to make [Justin Lindine] work for it.” Matter crossed third having ceded several minutes from his flat to the two riders in front. TSEpic Team’s Snyder rolled through in fourth, pulling ever so gradually farther away from Edsall over the final ten miles of the day.
Lindine will again don the yellow Pactimo Leaders Jersey on tomorrow’s stage and holds a 6:51 lead over Koerber. Matter sits in third at 9:39, with Snyder and Edsall at 16:36 and 18:31, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Stan’s NoTubes Women’s Elite team continued their domination of the Open Women’s category today during of the Transylvania Epic’s second stage, presented by Answer products.
During the initial two-mile neutral start, the Stan’s NoTubes women stuck together to ensure a strong position to begin the stage. According to Amanda Carey (Stan’s NoTubes Women’s Elite Team), the end of the neutral start marked the moment where “the gloves came off” and the teammates became competitors in the 36-mile stage.
Coming into the first section of single-track, Vicki Barclay (Stan’s NoTubes Women’s Elite Team) used her local knowledge of the trails to get a slight edge over teammate Amanda Carey (pictured above). However, Barclay would yield her position to Carey towards the top of the first large climb as Carey showed her strength in the rock-strewn hills.
After Carey developed a small lead, Sue Haywood (Stan’s NoTubes Women’s Elite Team) came “screaming” up to Carey’s wheel. Haywood attributed her aggressive ride to the “long sections of single-track” that allowed her to keep pace with Carey for most of the day. Sarah Kaufmann (Stan’s NoTubes Women’s Elite Team) rode hard to try to catch her teammates, but would continue to yield time to the leaders throughout the race. For the first half of the course, Haywood (pictured below) and Carey were inseparable, with each teammate trading off the lead through various sections. Coming into Checkpoint 1 for the second time, the two teammates were separated by only ten seconds. That gap widened as Haywood flatted during the second enduro segment, losing about two minutes to her teammate.
But Haywood’s close battle with Carey would soon dissolve as the two exited the dense, jagged rocks of the Cooper’s Gap single-track and entered the green canopied roads that dominated the second-half of the course to the finish line. Whereas Haywood excels on technical single-track, Carey finds more advantages on long, dirt roads. “I don’t want it to be my thing, but it’s kind of my thing,” Carey explains, “I can just shut off my brain, turn on my legs, and just power away.”
And power away she did. Sarah Kaufmann followed a few minutes behind second-placed Haywood for her third place finish.
In the General Classification, the top three podium spots went unchanged. Amanda Carey remained in the Stan’s NoTubes leader’s jersey while teammates Sarah Kaufmann and Vicki Barclay retained second and third, respectively. Sue Haywood’s strong ride in Stage 2 was enough to take over the fourth place standing and move Andrea Wilson (Brickhouse Racing) to fifth place. When asked about her plan for moving up further in the standings, Haywood admitted, “Amanda [Carey] is going to be pretty tough to beat. She’s on her A-game.” But Carey expressed her own cautions about the week-long race, “This stuff isn’t easy for anybody.”
For full results, visit: TSEpic.com. All photos: A.E. Landes Photography and Harris Dulap. Stage report by Tim Darwick