State College, PA - Load up on the stakes and garlic. If you know Buffy, bring her along. You're going to need some help to take on these guys. In recent days pro men from across the United States have finalized their commitments to this year's NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic and once again TSEpic is getting ready to host the strongest field to assemble in North America for a mountain bike stage race.
Cannondale's Jeremiah Bishop, the two-time defending champion at TSEpic, leads the line-up on the men's side. With two victories in hand and a string of MTB Stage Race wins 9 deep JB has to be the odds on favorite to don the Pactimo leader's jersey. Indications are that going home with that jersey will be harder than ever for this Olympic hopeful.
Leading the field of contenders is stage race maestro Jason Sager (Jamis) who is one of the world's most experienced in this discipline. Sager has completed Cape Epic and Trans Andes this season in prep for his run at TSEpic. His 2012 preparation combined with confidence that he was the strongest racer over the last several days of the 2011 TSE should leave Sager well positioned to take victory home with him to California.
TeamCF brings another likely contender for the overall victory in Christian Tanguay. Christian was a contender for the first edition of TSE in 2010 and then focused his talents on the NUE series in 2011. He made the most of this effort taking home the NUE title to stake his calim as the best endurance racer in North America. At the recent Cohutta 100 Tanguay finished a mere 4 minutes behind Bishop. With TSEpic's shorter courses forming the battlefield the war at front will be tight and hard fought.
Lining up with Bishop, Sager and Tanguay are a host of men who have the ability to win TSE and battle for the overall podium. Barry Wicks is demonstrating some of his best form in several years and this Kona Bikes rider is ready to avenge last year's frustrations.
The breakthrough performance of 2011 came from New England's Justin Lindine who rode a strong, steady race and finished just off the podium. Justin returns with confidence gained from last year and prep that includes a ride at Cape Epic. Two time finisher and stage threat Drew Edsall is back for third run with new found support and a factory ride on the Kenda/Felt Team. With his privateer status revoked could Drew pilot his Felt to the top of the podium in 2012? Sam Koerber is an unknown entity at TSE after having flown at the front of NUE #1 in Cohutta for the first four hours before fading late. Jonathan Davis is making the trip back to PA from Colorado and a laser focus on racing took him to a top 10 finish in Cohutta. Wicks will be ably assisted by his MTB stage race experienced team mate Cory Wallace while Sager will have back up in the form of Thomas Turner. Two local riders are aiming to make their mark at TSE. Aaron Snyder (Scott Bikes) has the BC Bike Race under his belt and moved to State College not long ago allowing him to train specifically on the trail of the TSEpic. Snyder has been marking his progress against the STRAVA times posted by Sager – and beating them. Finally, NoTubes has East Coast legend Stephen Kincaid lining up in their colors and while Stephen has most recently been a force on the road his abilities as a mountain bike racer are no less impressive and he is sure to find opportunities to shine, perhaps the whole way to final podium.
Photos by AELandes
The 2012 NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic presented by Dirt Rag kicks off on Sunday May 27 near State College, PA and will again feature what are perhaps the deepest and most competitive pro men's and women's fields in North American mountain bike stage racing while providing every participant the feel of a week of summer camp with a camp full of mountain biking friends. The TSEpic benefits PA Trails through the Outdoor Experience Organization. Find out more at www.TSEpic.com.
Updated on May 18, 2013, 8:37am