Yesterday's stage is considered the "road" stage of the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic, but in the wilds of central Pennsylvania, that means surfaces ranging from gravel to chunky doubletrack bracketed by sections of twisty, rocky singletrack. Nevertheless, there was plenty of roadie-style peloton action complete with strong attacks from the start.
Dan Timmerman (Riverside Racing) and Vicki Barclay (Stan's NoTubes Elite Women's Team) won the elite men's and women's categories while Payson McElveen (Competitive Cyclist) and Barclay successfully defended their respective leads in the overall elite classifications.
After nearly three hours of intense effort, the men's race came down to a photo finish: Dan Timmerman (Riverside Racing) got his first stage win, with Competitive Cyclist teammates and general classification leaders Payson McElveen and Justin Lindine plus early attacker Peter Glassford (Trek Canada) rounding out the lead group.
Glassford set a fast pace early and was pleased with the result. "I'm rarely going to win in a sprint, so I started sprinting four miles out," he said. "I was out front for a while and that let me ride the second enduro section alone, which was good."
"Then, it was just the lead guys, which is a little nicer not having to fight for position, since everyone is a solid rider," said Glassford. "I just tried to drive the pace every time I could on the climbs so everyone was a little more fatigued coming into the sprint, and I think it worked. Last year, I was blown on the last climb, but this year, I was right there with the guys."
Stage winner Timmerman enjoyed the lack of rocks on much of the route. "It was a much better day for me, that's for sure," he said yesterday. "I pretty much perpetually have back problems. The technical stuff hurts it, so today was better for me."
Timmerman made the finish extra exciting by nearly taking out the timing table. "I didn't know what to expect for the finish–if we had a loop or we'd go straight in–but we went straight in, so I just went for it. I didn't really think about it. I saw the banner and I went. I wanted to be close to the timing thing, to make sure my chip read."
After four days of racing, McElveen and Lindine remain within three minutes of one another on GC.
Lindine engaged in a bit of psychological strategy against his teammate. "Justin said it couldn't possibly rain today, and wouldn't it suck if it was wet–then it rained," said McElveen. "But those dirt roads were awesome, those roads were beautiful."
Lindine admitted he liked the wet conditions, too. "The rain was awesome!"
Vicki Barclay (Stan's NoTubes Elite Women's Team) had a great day, and was the only woman to bridge up to the train of elite men, gaining 5:30 on the next female finisher in the process.
"It is so great to feel strong every day," said Barclay. "Today, I was conscious at the start of not getting out of the saddle and trying to drill it up the hill with the guys, just trying to stay in the saddle and stay with them, not blowing five matches on the first climb. I was with them, and Mical [Dyck (Stan's NoTubes Elite Women's Team)] was there, and I could see her out of the saddle, but I thought I'd play it safe. And she blew up a little when I passed her, so then I put in a dig to try to catch that group of men."
Although they are teammates, Barclay explained that she and Dyck are both gunning for the win. "Mical and I are first and second and both of us want to win, so it's hard to have team tactics or team dynamics now — it's every woman for herself," she said. "But no one is that safe just now in the general classification."
Crystal Anthony (Riverside Racing) kept her head despite some difficulty and earned second on the day. "The week has been up and down, but today was good. I learned on the second day that I have to ride my own race and ride where my fitness is," she said.
"I got popped off the back today but I kept with it–it's a long stage," said Anthony, who dropped back to fourth for a bit, but kept Selene Yeager (Rare Disease Cycling) in sight, and by the last climb, had gotten around her. "Then Mical was visible ahead, and I got past her on the last climb and rode like hell to stay ahead on the final bit. It was a good stage!"
Dyck hung in there for third place. "My day was hard! I felt good for about 20 minutes and then my legs were empty," she said. "It was a lot of road, and nothing super steep, but they went on forever so you had to put constant power down. There was a lot of mental battle today. You're moving fast, but it's still a lot of distance to cover."
When Yeager shows up for the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic, she is typically a threat to win, but this year she's coming off a huge effort. Yeager joined the Gu Energy Labs team to ride the entire Tour of California stage race course–700 miles, 43,000 feet of climbing–the week before the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic.
"I'm going to be 100 percent honest. I woke up this morning, stepped outside and burst into tears. I'm so mentally tired," said Yeager. "But I really like this stage, so I went out, rode around, and it was a beautiful morning. I just keep head-checking myself–this isn't the end of the world, it's just a bike race, and if I do good, great, and if I don't, it's OK. It's taking more work to put myself in a good place in the morning, but once the race is on, I find that good place. I'm enjoying the race." Yeager's good attitude carried her into fourth place for yesterday's stage.
Under 25 Men and Women
Besides the ever-present Payson McElveen at the top of the young rider results, Lewis Gaffney and Drew Dillman (both of Colt Training Systems) were again second and third on the day. Gaffney had an especially good result, just seconds behind the top five elite men.
Colt Training Systems’ young riders are clearly dominant in the women's race as well as the men's field. Yesterday, it was Samantha Runnels taking the top Under 25 women's time, with teammate Libby White not far behind. Stan's NoTubes Elite Women's rider Emily Shields rounded out the top three. Tuesday's winner Ellen Noble did not have a good day, but remains in fourth in the GC for Under 25 women.