Stage 3 of the Trans-Sylvania Epic on Tuesday was greeted by another hot, humid day, with Jason Sager (Jamis) and Amanda Carey (Kenda-Felt) taking wins.
The 76km (47mi) stage was a mix of pavement, gravel and short but difficult singletrack sections. As the open men rolled out the overnight buzz was that Team CF’s Chris Beck would attack early and when he did the main bunch let him dangle for a while before bringing him back. Once the capture happened Team Jamis leader Jason Sager countered with an attack of his own. After this first surge, GC leader Jeremiah Bishop and his Cannondale teammate Alex Grant, Kona’s Kris Sneddon, Justin Lindine (BikeReg.com/Joe’s Garage/Scott), Drew Edsall (Super Cool Bike Shop/Fastpaceracing) and Beck regrouped and formed the selection. The only contender missing was Kona’s Barry Wick’s who was left dealing with two flat tires and a badly out of true rear wheel during the early part of the day.
After three stages, Bishop holds a near eight-minute lead over Snedden and nearly twelve minutes on third place Lindine. For the women, Carey sits eight minutes ahead of Selene Yeager (Team CF) and 14:12 over Vicki Barclay.
On the major climb Grant tested his legs and Sager followed, slowing settling into a groove that put a gap on both Grant and the rest of the field. According to Sager, his plan was to slowly snap off riders with small accelerations and it worked to perfection.
“I wanted to do little chips, little chips to isolate guys,” said Sager. “I tried to do it earlier in the day too, chip away and splinter riders.”
As Sager neared the crest of the climb he saw Bishop chasing on his own so he slowed and waited for him to catch on.
“That was a bold move by Jason to slow up for Bishop,” said Sager’s teammate Adam Snyder. “Anything could have happened, he could have countered with an attack of his own.”
But the pair worked through the last section of singletrack and the short gravel road to the finish, which saw Sager take the win and Bishop hold onto the overall lead going into stage 4. Grant came in third five minutes back.
“Bishop and I worked well all the way in with a good even pace,” said Sager of the final miles.
The women’s field started in no less dramatic fashion as Specialized’s Rebecca Rusch, Sue Haywood (Shenandoah Bikes/Kenda/Turner/I-9) and Sonya Looney (Topeak/Ergon) all went off course near the start and lost approximately 10 minutes and second place GC rider Karen Potter (MTBRacenews) abandoned the race early in the stage.
As the top three women went through the first feed GC leader Amanda Carey slowly began to pull away over last year’s overall winner Selene Yeager (Team CF,) eventually gaining about seven minutes by the finish. Going into the last singletrack section Yeager took a wrong turn, ending up in driveway before getting back on track and riding up on a crashed Vicki Barclay who snuck by while Yeager was off-course.
Barclay, who injured her ribs in a crash during the prologue and continues to crash each day on the same side remounted and held on to take third. In the final home stretch Haywood, citing general race fatigue, crashed hard, finished and got a quick check by the medic before riding away from the start/finish area.
Both the men’s and women’s class got off to an exciting start but the biggest change happened in the singlespeed category where Team Dicky’s Rich Dillen had a heroic day, upsetting leader Rich Straub (Freeze Thaw/NoTubes/BikeFlights) by five minutes to take both the day’s contest and the overall leaders jersey by a mere 35 seconds. According to Dillen, he blew through the first aid station and ended up riding 35 miles to the final feed in near 100-degree heat with only two water bottles. Then with just under one mile to go he flatted his rear tire and rode in on the puncture.