When the dust settled at the end of the opening prologue stage of the Trans-Sylvania Epic on Sunday, Justin Lindine (Redline/NBX) stood atop the podium. The Massachusetts resident was celebrating his second-ever Trans-Sylvania stage win. He previously won the closing stage two years ago, during his first attempt at the seven-day central Pennsylvania mountain bike stage race.
"This feels awesome. I came into today wanting to get it off on the right foot. It's good," Lindine told Cyclingnews. "I had a bunch of mechanical trouble last year. I was doing good, then fell back in the GC with all that." Lindine finished fourth in 2011 and sixth in 2012.
"The time gaps are not huge after today; it's still a tight race," he said. "Ultimately, I'd like to get some more time and get more of a cushion. Having been in a position where something goes wrong and you lose a few minutes, it's nice to have a few in hand. I'll probably try to see how aggressive other people want to be tomorrow at the start, and I hope that I can gain some time at the end of the stage."
"It's a long race and you need to be consistent."
Sunday's prologue was a 14-mile individual time trial with over 1400 feet of climbing. "The prologue was a lot of fun this year. It went in the opposite direction of previous years, and they added a bit of singletrack at the end, so it was a bit longer than it has been," said Lindine.
"I thought the race flowed nice, and it was cool to do it backwards and have it be a little different. If you do the same thing too many times, it gets kind of predictable. It made it exciting."
"Of course, it's easy to like things when things go right."
Monday's stage 2 is one of the most difficult days of racing at the Trans-Sylvania Epic. "Tomorrow's a pretty hard day. There's a lot of burly singletrack. Staying out of mechanical issues will be key."
"The separations in a day like tomorrow tend to happen naturally. It's not like there is really attacking. You want to push the pace a little harder in the singletrack sections, but the climbing will also take its toll."
Lindine is looking forward to what should be perfect weather - mid 70s and mostly sunny. Last year, racers competed in 95-degree temperatures which took a big toll.
To 'cross or to mountain bike
Lindine is well known on the cyclo-cross circuit, but he also enjoys mountain bike racing, especially stage racing.
"I like the format of stage racing a lot. It seems to suit me ok," he said.
"'Cross is my bigger focus of the year, but I like the way mountain biking ties into it. I can take it seriously enough without having to get beat down by travelling too much. I used to do more road racing, but it got kind of old, always going from here to there."
The only other mountain bike stage race Lindine has done was the Cape Epic in 2012, which he did on a team with Jason Sager.
"Cape Epic was awesome. It's a whole crazy experience going to South Africa and racing the World Cup field."
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for full coverage of the Trans-Sylvania Epic.