Cole Oberman (Rare Disease Cycling) became the second under 25 rider to win a stage at the Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race on Thursday during stage 5 at R.B. Winter State Park. He launched an attack with 10 miles to go in the 31-mile stage and stayed off the front to take the victory.
It wasn't the first time he had made such a solo attempt. In yesterday's stage 4, he also attacked near the end but was caught by the general classification contenders.
"It's always the plan to wait until later in the race and try to attack then," said the 23-year-old Oberman, who lives in Philadelphia.
"But it worked out this time. I was kind of dangling off the back all day and was having some brake issues which made it tricky to stay with the pack on the downhills," said Oberman. "I was still just barely hanging on in one rocky section, then I rolled to the front, rolled off and got a gap. They were all looking at each other, so I drilled it."
When asked why his attack worked in stage 5, but not stage 4, he said, "I went a little earlier today so I got more of a leash. I had better legs today, too."
It was a long 11 miles for Oberman, who had missed his bottle hand-up at the checkpoint mid-way through the race.
"I had been without water since the checkpoint. I kept waiting to hit the wall, but I just kept telling myself to keep breathe, breathe, breathe, and I got it done."
Oberman took second or "first loser" as he jokingly called it at the singlespeed 'cross Worlds in Philly last December. He also races cyclo-cross and does some road racing.
"I have a bias toward mountain biking, but 'cross is also a big focus because it's so big around here and it's fun," he said. "I dabble in some road racing. I'm still working to get my Cat. 1 upgrade on the road, but it's coming."
This year is the first time Oberman is doing the Trans-Sylvania Epic. He signed up because his team wanted to do it, and so did he. Plus it fit his schedule.
"I've been loving it so far. It's just like the riding I grew up doing - I grew up riding Michaux State Forest and Conrad Weiser." Oberman is from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
He has previously represented the US National Team at three cross country World Cups and finished in the top 10 at under 23 cross country nationals.
"I've won a fair amount of local and regional races, so I'm hopefully on my way up now," he said. "Next, I'll finish the US Cup series, and I'll try to sneak onto the podium at cross country nationals."