The Shenandoah 100, held in the George Washington National Forest, is not only the finale, it is also the tiebreaker of the NUE Series, making it a critical race in both the Men’s Open and Masters 50+ division this year. With 650 racers, Shenandoah is second only to the Leadville 100 in total number of entrants.
For the three time defending NUE Series Champion, Jeff Schalk (Trek Mountain Co-op), everything is on the line Sunday as he is plans to retire from professional racing next year. Schalk has dominated the NUE Series in three of its five years now. Following a difficult start to the season this year, he has come back stronger than ever.
Perhaps his finest moment and the turning point was his incredible victory over the five time defending Breckenridge Champion, Josh Tostada. A lone challenger stands in the way between him and his fourth straight NUE title.
Hailing from Michigan, Christian Tanguy (Team CF)is determined to win his first NUE Series title and, in the process, he has hounded the defending champion at every turn.Like Schalk, Tanguy will also be out next year due to a new career opportunity in the Orient.
Following his incredible win at Shenandoah last year, Tanguy dug in over the winter, emerging even stronger and more formidable this year. He took the first two races at Cohutta and Syllamo’s before winning on his home turf in Michigan at the Lumberjack 100, however, he needed just one more win to tie. He appeared stuckas Schalk hit his stride later in the season, that is, until the Fool’s Gold 100. The unprecedented tie at the Fool’s Gold gave Tanguy what he needed, a final showdown at Shenandoah. Whoever crosses the line firstwill take the NUE title.
Other major contenders will include Chris Beck (Team CF), Mike Simonson (RBS Trek MTB Team/Stans No Tubes), Brandon Draugalis (Team CF), Richie O'Neil (Stan's NoTubes/Giant) and Pistol Pete Schildt (Keswick Cycles). 2011 Tour d Burg champ Sam Koerber (Trek 29er Crew) is riding well with victories in the Iron Mountain 100 K and the ORAMM 100 K and is reportedly ready for action!
Other top 10 hopefuls include Drew Edsall (Super Cool Bike Shop/ First Place Racing) who rode at the front for the first three hours of the Wilderness 101, Kevin Carter (Team Calleva), Garth Prosser (Cannondale/ Ashford Surgical), Robert Marion (American Classic/Kenda/Tomac), Greg Kuhn (RBS Trek MTB Team/Stans No Tubes), Andy Gorski (Pro Bikes), Ryan Mckinney (Clean Currents p/b Don Beyer Volvo), Dan Atkins (Trek 29er Crew), Rob Spreng (Dirty Harry's), Chris Strout (Team Skink), Mike Cushionbury (Team Trans-Sylvania Epic), Ernesto Marenchin (Pivot Cycles), and Lee Hauber (Trek 29er Crew) and Jens "the Biking Viking" Nielsen (Sports Systems) who is returning from New Mexico.This field guarantees that it will be more difficult than ever to crack the top ten this year!
Yeilding the young Jedi in training powers at the Shenandoah this year will be Connor Bell, Madison Matthews (MBR/The Bicycle Shop) and Adam Croft (Trek Mountain Co-op).
With five wins this year, Amanda Carey (Kenda/Felt) has already locked in her second straight NUE Series title, however, former NUE Champ Cheryl Sornson (Team CF) will be shooting for her third win of the season this year.Sornsen placed third at Shenandoah last year and is the leading contender this year.
Standing in her wayis Karen Potter (www.MTBRaceNews.com) and Vicki Barclay (Freeze Thaw Cycles/StansNoTubes) who placed fourth and fifth respectively last year. Brenda Simril (Motor Mile Racing) has had her best season ever, currently holding third in the NUE series. Other contenders will include Emily McDonald (Veloworks-Spokes, Etc.) and Laura Hamm (Virginia Tech Cycling).
The Pfluginator, Gerry Pflug (Salsa/NoTubes/ProBikes) has most effectively wrapped up his second straight NUE Series title with an amazing eight out of nine wins this year, by far, the best record series wide. Will he rest on his laurels? Don’t bet on it!
He will face one a most formidable field this year that includesformer NUE Series Champ Harlan Price (Santa Cruz) who just missed his opportunity to knock off the defending champ last year. Other singlespeeders hoping for one final shot at the Pfluginator will include Matt Ferrari (Freeze Thaw/Hub Cap Cycles), currently tied with Jason Pruitt with 14 points each in an NUE Series battle for second place.
Did the Tour D Burg "experience" do anything to improve Rich Dillens (Team Dicky) chances of doing well this year? Can Dylan Johnson (Oasis Bike Works) be the dark horse that rises up amongst theseproven stallions? Gary Chambers (The Bike Zoo) will be back to toss his hat in the ring after a very good ride at the Iron Mountain 100 K last month. Chris Merriam (4 boys racing) and Justin Pokrivka (Pro Bikes/Cohen and Associates) will round out the top contenders this year.
NUE Defending Champion, RobertHerriman (Trek 29er Crew/WSC/ACFSTORES.COM )made it three with a big win by more than hour at the Fool’s Gold 100. He needs just one more win to match Doug Andrews (www.GeoLadders.com) aka “The Hulk” who has four wins this season. However, all ties are broken at Shenandoah meaning that a win for Herriman is the ONLY way he can defend his title. Anything less will result in Andrews becoming the NUE Masters Champion.
Roger Masse (Trek 29er Crew) has a firm grip on third place in the points and has an advantage on familiar trails. Other contenders that could affect the outcome include Mike Ramponi (Independent Fabrication) who place second at the Wilderness 101.
John Williams (the Bike Line) just got off the waiting list about an hour ago and will now get his chance to slug it out with these guys. Bill Nagel (Guy's Bicycles Racing) reportedly made a claim at the 101 that he was going to be going well for this one. Jim Matthews (MBR /the Bicycle Shop) had his first taste of the Shenandoah last year and is back to round out the field. Mike Ramponi (Independent Fabrication) will be riding his single speed amongst the Masters.