Andrea Wilson (Brickhouse Racing) won stage 5 of the Trans-Sylvania Epic on Thursday. The Memphis, Tennessee-based rider took top honors after four of the race favorites - leader Amanda Carey, Sarah Kaufmann, Sue Haywood and Vicki Barclay - made a wrong turn that cost them more than 25 minutes.
"It's amazing to win. It's crazy," said Wilson, who didn't know the others had gone off course and therefore had no idea she had won the stage after she crossed the line with fellow racer Sonya Looney (Topeak Ergon).
"I hate that some people went off course, but at the same time, I passed the same spot and didn't go more than 20 feet off course. That's bike racing."
Wilson's only other career major race win came during stage 5 of the Breck Epic mountain bike stage race last season. She primarily races events in her region, but occasionally gets out on the national circuit.
None of the top men went off course, but most riders - elite and amateur - knew of the place where Carey and her teammates took a wrong turn.
"I know where they went off course because I started to go that wrong way, but I saw no arrows after going that way, so I went back," said Wilson.
Carey said it took her 22 minutes to climb back uphill to get back onto the course after her group realized their mistake and turned around. She had enough of a lead going into the stage to continue as race leader despite the mistake; however, Wilson jumped up the GC into second place overall. Haywood follows her in third place.
"I think that they will be angry and the gloves will come off - tomorrow will bring a whole new level of hurt," said the woman who has been chasing the Stan's NoTubes riders all week.
"Sue is two and a half minutes behind me. I'm going to fight to stay in the top 3," she said.
Wilson came to the Trans-Sylvania Epic looking for a challenge. "The race looked like fun." She is doing well on the technical rocky Pennsylvania singletrack, having learned to ride rocks in Arkansas, where she does most of her riding.
Also leading the enduro sub-classification despite crashing and cracking her frame during yesterday's enduro formatted stage, Wilson has proven her descending and technical skills all week.
After the Trans-Sylvania Epic, she will also race the Breck Epic mountain bike stage race and mountain bike marathon nationals.
"I'm going to try to keep doing what I've been doing. It's been working out well for me. It's probably the best I've done at a larger race with such a strong field," she said.
"It's exciting to be racing these ladies who have always beaten me. This is the first time I've hung with them. I've worked really hard to get to where I can do that. I hope to keep improving."