June 04, 2012

Aaron 4th Overall at the 2012 Trans-Sylvania Epic

Aaron finished 4th on the day and 4th overall after a wild final day for the seven-day stage race in central Pennsylvania.  He came in less than 2 minutes behind third place, Barry Wicks.

Photo: © AELandes Photography
Final results and stage-by-stage results
Here's video of the stage:

Watch more video of 2012 Trans-Sylvania MTB Epic on cyclingdirt.org

And the race report from www.cyclingnews.com:

Expectations that the final day of competition in the week-long 2012 NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic presented by Dirt Rag would be uneventful proved to be fanciful dreams of those at the top of the leader boards.  The Men’s Open category saw aggressive racing from the gun while several in the Women’s field saw opportunities to attack the pace eased between the two front runners.

Promoter Mike Kuhn offered, “This is the sort of racing everyone loves.  Unpredictable.  Exciting.  Fast.  We’ve purposefully created a week of seven different looking and riding stages.  Of course the racers always dictate the outcome, but the mix allows different racers to shine on different days.  Throw in the undulating terrain and technical nature of Pennsylvania’s singletrack with its challenging rocks, roots and logs and the outcome of a stage is never predictable.  That was certainly the case today.”

As if shot from the barrel of a Pennsylvania Long Rifle, Matthys Buekes (unattached) exploded off the front of the field on the very first minor ascent of the day.  Buekes spent the week crushing world class racers every time the grade ticked skyward and knew that a win on the final stage depended on opening a gap before technical PA singletrack allowed his adversaries to push their advantage on terrain unfamiliar to this South African.  

Cannondale’s Jeremiah Bishop was no less motivated for a win after watching team mate and Trans-Sylvania Epic Team competitor Tim Johnson (Volkswagen/People for Bikes/Cannondale/NoTubes) scoop up two straight overall stage wins in the previous days.  Bishop, one of North America’s best and an Olympic hopeful, watched for a response from the field before jumping to cover the South African’s move.

As the race penetrated the dark Pennyslvania forest the first singletrack, a bermed section carved into the earth, placed Bishop in his element and he quickly overtook Buekes while behind Johnson was the first of several key competitors to flat.  Barry Wicks (Kona Bikes) was also in the hunt for the stage win after a mano-a-mano battle with Bishop’s over the early TSEpic stages. However, Wicks again found the PA singletrack his biggest nemesis as the first dirt road intersection saw him off the bike with inflator in hand.  Wicks’ team mate Cory Wallace came upon the scene and quickly offered his wheel in an effort to put Wicks back into contention for the stage.

Several miles of ridge top singletrack that repeatedly dove into deep laurel thickets bursting in spring blossom gave Bishop who later said, "Today was the strongest I've felt all week." the perfect playground to showcase his skill set.  Within those few miles he pushed to a one minute and fifteen second advantage over Justin Lindine (Redline) who was just ahead of top ten GC racers Aaron Snyder (SCOTT), Chris Michaels (Felt), Drew Edsall (Kenda/Felt) and Cary Smith (Team CF) with Buekes reappearing at the tail end of this group.

As Bishop engaged his World Cup warp drive and drove a larger and large wedge between himself and the rest the stage looked to be a battle for second.  A battle for second on the podium began to enter the picture as Buekes steadily chewed into the gap Wicks held at the beginning of the day in the overall rankings.

As the field descended Panther Road and Little Poe “Roads” - some of Pennsylvania DCNRs thousands of miles of drivable trail across the state - disaster struck.  On the high speed descent of Little Poe, a minefield of embedded rock that offered launching pads for huge air, Bishop flatted and the class of the field soon overtook the stationary Cannondale racer.  Johnson, coming back from his own flat, did what he could to help his team mate while Lindine took over the lead on the road.

Like the Africanized Bee, deadly when provoked and quick to attack, Buekes, appropriately attired all week in black and yellow, went for the kill.  The South African raced by Snyder then Michaels and Smith and finally even Lindine in the two mile long ascent to the day’s only checkpoint on Pine Swamp Rd.

As the race climbed skyward across Tower Trail Beukes increased his lead and entered the final technical section of the day on Old Burn Tr a full 1:45 in front of Lindine and more than 3:30 ahead of Bishop, with Snyder and Smith still in the mix and making a bid for the day’s podium.  

Buekes who won the stage with Lindine almost 2:30 behind while Bishop demonstrated why he is the GC leader and now three time champion of the Trans-Sylvania Epic racing into third place on the stage and cementing his overall victory.  Snyder came across fourth and with stage winner Buekes began ticking off the minutes watching for Wicks to cross the line.  After a brutal, mechanical filled day, Wicks came across the line in 2:03:57, almost 16 minutes behind Beukes, allowing the “Killer Bee” to step up to second overall for the week.  Wicks just held on to the final podium position finishing two minutes ahead of State College’s Snyder after 7 days and over 225 miles of incredible Pennsylvania dirt and rocks.

Also, check out coverage over at Dirt Rag Magazine, including coverage of the unofficial "Stage 8" Beer Race - looks like a great time!

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