Bishop tops list of favorites for Trans-Sylvania Epic

The 2012 edition of the Trans-Sylvania Epic (TSE) mountain bike stage racing is drawing another strong field of elite men to the start line later this month.

Cannondale's Jeremiah Bishop, the two-time defending champion at TSE, leads the line-up on the men's side. With two victories in hand and a string of mountain bike stage race wins nine deep, Bishop has to be the odds on favorite to don the leader's jersey. However, indications are that going home with that jersey will be harder than ever for this Olympic hopeful.

Leading the field of contenders is stage race maestro Jason Sager (Jamis), an experienced mountain bike stage racer. Sager has completed Cape Epic and Trans Andes this season in prep for his run at TSE. His 2012 preparation combined with confidence that he was the strongest racer over the last several days of the 2011 TSE should leave Sager well positioned to take victory home with him.

Team CF brings another likely contender for the overall victory in Christian Tanguy, who was a contender for the first edition of TSE in 2010 and then focused his talents on the NUE series in 2011. He made the most of this effort, taking home the NUE title to stake his claim as the best endurance racer in North America. At the recent Cohutta 100, Tanguy finished a mere four minutes behind Bishop. With TSE's shorter courses forming the battlefield, the war at front will be tight and hard fought.

Lining up with Bishop, Sager and Tanguy are a host of men who have the ability to win TSE and battle for the overall podium. Barry Wicks is demonstrating some of his best form in several years, and this Kona Bikes rider is ready to avenge last year's frustrations.

The breakthrough performance of 2011 came from New England's Justin Lindine, who rode a strong, steady race and finished just off the podium. Lindine returns with confidence gained from last year and prep that includes a ride at Cape Epic. Two-time finisher and stage threat Drew Edsall is back for third run with new found support and a factory ride on the Kenda/Felt Team. Sam Koerber is an unknown entity at TSE after having flown at the front of NUE round 1 in Cohutta for the first four hours before fading late. Jonathan Davis is making the trip back to Pennsylvania from Colorado and a laser focus on racing took him to a top 10 finish in Cohutta.

Wicks will be ably assisted by his MTB stage race experienced teammate Cory Wallace while Sager will have back up in the form of Thomas Turner.

There are two local riders are aiming to make their mark at TSE: Aaron Snyder (Scott Bikes) has the BC Bike Race under his belt and moved to State College not long ago, allowing him to train specifically on the trails of the TSE. Snyder has been marking his progress against the Strava times posted by Sager - and beating them. Finally, NoTubes has East Coast legend Stephen Kincaid lining up in their colors and while Kincaid has most recently been a force on the road, his abilities as a mountain bike racer are no less impressive, and he is sure to find opportunities to shine, perhaps the whole way to final podium.

The 2012 Trans-Sylvania Epic will kick off on Sunday, May 27 near State College, Pennsylvania and will finish seven days later. The race benefits Pennsylvania Trails through the Outdoor Experience Organization.

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