Former winners Brian Matter (Gear Grinder) and Amanda Carey found their way back to the top step of the podium at the Iceman Cometh on Saturday in Michigan.
Matter won the elite men's race by 17 seconds ahead of Todd Wells (Specialized), Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale), Sam Schultz (Subaru / Trek) and Tristan Schouten (Mafia / Felt), who sprinted each other for second place.
Carey raced to a women's victory by a more comfortable 2:39-margin, ahead of Sara Kylander-Johnson (Trek Co-op) and five minutes ahead of Mackenzie Woodring (Priority Health).
A tactical men's race
With a stacked field of several past Iceman Cometh race winners, former and current cross country national champions and a dozen pro roadies, the pace of the elite men's point-to-point race was fast from the gun. The racers faced a course that had already been raced by more than 3,000 amateur racers earlier in the day. Two inches of snow the day before the race plus temperatures rising above the freezing point made for some tricky, and at times treacherous conditions.
"The earlier racers packed down the sand in some sections and made it faster, but the singletrack turned into mud and deep ruts and you had to hang on for dear life," said eventual winner Matter to Cyclingnews. As the race went on and the bikes got sloppier, the racers' drivetrains only got noisier. "Everybody's bike had a chain skipping by the end. I was hoping that I wouldn't lose because I broke my chain in the last mile, but everybody's bike sounded the same."
Throughout the race, the favorites took turns attacking and stringing out the peloton, gradually shelling one rider after another. Most of the roadies were gone from the lead group by about the halfway point, except for Cole House (BMC), who hung until about eight miles to go.
"There were constant attacks and surges in speed," said third place finisher Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale), a former race winner to Cyclingnews. "The lead instigators took turn at the front. Wells, JHK and me. Everyone was still too animated for anyone to get away. The course got slicker as we went, and I think that was the undoing for the road racers." Although there was no snow at the start and the finish, some middle portions of the course were lined with it.
"There were so many strong guys I was wondering how is this going to change," said Bishop of the seeming stalemate at the front of the race.
Then two-time winner Matter played out the perfect strategic race for this third Iceman victory. As the heavy favorites marked each other and with about four miles to go, the Wisconsin rider launched an attack, which seemed to catch the others by surprise. No on initiated a chase as the favorites effectively neutralized each other, and Matter's gap opened up to over half a minute.
"Brian went on the attack, and I thought it'd be good and force a higher pace, but it backfired and he got too much of a lead," said Bishop. "Brian and Tristan are really good buddies, and I didn't think of this at the time, but I should have. We all sat and looked at each other. Tristan wouldn't chase Brian. After Wells and I had attacked as hard as we could and didn't get away, we though Brian couldn't get away either."
"I should have realized that if you give a guy an inch on home turf, he'll take a mile," said Bishop, who was nonetheless pleased with his top-three finish.
"Tristan and I know the three significant singletrack sections of the race, and we made sure that we were in the top five going into each of those," said Matter. "The race strings out on those, so your position is key. You need to have legs for the last seven miles when it's rolling climb after rolling climb."
"The others were looking at each other, and I knew I needed to go for it. I knew Tristan wouldn't chase me down, just as if he'd gone, I'd not have chased him. Each of us figured we'd have a free ride back up with the other favorites' doing the work."
Once Matter was off the front, there was no bringing him back. "For the first three minutes after my attack, I was seeing stars. After that, I took a few deep breaths, and I followed the lead moto and pedalled as hard as I could."
"We got to the point with two miles to go, and I said the others 'guys we have to go now if we're going to catch him'. He probably had 35 seconds. Wells went to the front and opened it up. He pulled over, then I went to the front," said Bishop. "I pegged it the last mile and a half. The course seemed to get longer and longer. Wells was coming, followed by Tristan and Sam. Wells got in front of me before the last wall, and then I saw the crowds, there were tons of people. It was a 50m stretch and I figured the finish was close. Wells came up and got me at the end."
National champion Wells finished second ahead of past winner Bishop. Schultz finished fourth ahead of Schouten in fifth. House was top roadie in sixth place.
Carey cruises to women's win
Amanda Carey (Kenda) proved to be the fastest woman as she rode to her second Iceman victory after a first in 2008.
"It was my third time doing the race, and I knew the course well," said Carey, who'd also pre-ridden it the day prior to the race. She flown in from her home in Victor, Idaho, to compete in the classic mountain bike race.
The women's field was smaller than in many previous years, with just 17 pro finishers. However, the race still got off to a blistering start.
"It started like always - fast," said Carey, who spends most of her mountain bike season racing longer, endurance events. "But this time I was coming in as a past champion, and I took more responsibility to be up front."
Carey and a few other women traded turns at the front as the field slowly was whittled down. "There was a group of seven, then five, then finally three," said Carey to Cyclingnews.
And then there were just two - Carey and eventual second place finisher Sara Kylander-Johnson (Trek Co-op), who is a regular in the Wisconsin Off Road Series (WORS). "It was just the two of us, and I had it in my mind where was the perfect place to attack. It was near a big road crossing and there were tons of people lining the course - three to four deep. I knew it'd be a good place to attack because of what came afterward."
Her attack stuck and she pushed the pace on the rolling hills that followed. "My strength is powering on the flats, so then I just kept going. I won in a similar fashion before, so I was familiar with the strategy."
Carey rode the rest of the race solo and finished 2:39 ahead of Kylander-Johnson. Mackenzie Woodring (Priority Health) was third at five minutes.
Race note: Matter won the race on a new bike he had never raced before, a Trek hardtail. During the mountain bike season, he had been racing on a Trek Top Fuel dual suspension, and in recent weeks, he'd switched over to 'cross. He'd ridden his hardtail mountain bike just twice before race day, once on Wednesday and once on Friday. "I was hoping it would stay together and I'd be able to corner on it, but after you do this long enough, you just figure out how to ride the bike."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Brian Matter (Gear Grinder)||1:42:16|
|2||Todd Wells (Specialized)||0:00:17|
|4||Sam Schultz (Subaru-Trek)|
|5||Tristan Schouten (Mafia - Felt)||0:00:19|
|6||Cole House (BMC Racing Team)||0:01:49|
|7||Mike Phillips (Adventure 212/Specialized)||0:01:59|
|8||Colin Cares (Kenda)||0:02:48|
|9||Russell Finsterwald (Subaru-Trek)||0:03:43|
|10||Derek Graham (Derek Graham)||0:03:53|
|11||Nathan Guerra (Mr Tree/powergay)||0:04:27|
|12||Cameron Walters (Cycle To Fitness)||0:04:29|
|13||Aaron Bradford (Specialized)||0:05:14|
|14||Isaac Neff (Alderfer Bergen)||0:05:48|
|15||Nathaniel Williams (Bissell/ABG Cycling)||0:05:57|
|16||Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing Team)||0:06:28|
|17||Ronald Catlin (MPI-Mainstreetbicycle)||0:06:38|
|18||Stephen Dempsey (Bells Brewery)||0:06:50|
|19||Christian Tanguy (Team CF)||0:07:26|
|20||Mike Anderson (Trek 29er Crew)||0:07:52|
|21||Clint Verran (Paint Creek Bicycles)||0:08:34|
|22||Alan Antonuk (Cleveland Clinic Sports)||0:08:42|
|23||Dan Korienek (Leadout Racing)||0:09:04|
|24||Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell)||0:09:36|
|25||Scott Cole (Adventure 212/Specialized)||0:09:40|
|26||Paul Borden (Fraser Bike)||0:10:13|
|27||Tyler Gauthier (Culvers Racing)||0:10:14|
|28||Jason Lowetz (Team Bearclaw)||0:10:22|
|29||Mark Parmelee (Cycletherapy Racing)||0:10:51|
|30||Timothy Carson (Cannondale/OMBC)||0:11:08|
|31||Matt Craig (Pedalstop.Com / Team)||0:11:12|
|32||Shawn Davison (Farm Team Racing)||0:11:16|
|33||Mike Tacchella (Recycling)||0:11:26|
|34||Bill Gallagher (Breakaway Bikes)||0:11:59|
|35||Ed Serrat (Spin Zone/Cannondale)||0:12:03|
|36||Travis Saeler (Trek 29er Crew)||0:12:24|
|37||Scott Stewart (Bell's Beer)||0:12:35|
|38||Michael Simonson (Trek/notubes/SRAM)|
|39||Matt Verona (Wolverine Sports Clu)||0:12:56|
|40||Chris Peariso (Adventure212/Specialized)||0:13:19|
|41||Nikolai Anikin (Continential Ski)||0:13:22|
|42||Jacob Rytlewski (Kenda Pro Cycling)||0:13:23|
|43||Jeff Craven (City Bike Shop)||0:13:48|
|44||Burke Swindelhurst (Teamgive)||0:14:13|
|45||Tyler Jenema (Gear-Grinder)||0:14:42|
|46||Chris Kreple (HUP United)||0:14:52|
|47||Larry Warbasse Jr (BMC Racing Team)|
|48||Taylor Birmann (Priority Health Cycling)||0:15:44|
|50||Chris Patterson (D2-Admirroration Racing)||0:16:07|
|51||Rick Bentley (Team Fast!)||0:16:08|
|52||Erik Koehler (Wolverines)||0:16:18|
|53||Patrick Wallace (Kona - Ellicottville)||0:16:45|
|54||Benjamin Whitehead (Bissell/Advantage)||0:17:03|
|55||Tim Finkel (Gary Fisher 29er Crew)||0:17:20|
|56||Dan Kotwicki (29ercrew.Com / Sram)||0:17:26|
|57||Adam York (Trails Edge)||0:17:30|
|59||Craig Webb (Hagerty)||0:18:23|
|60||Alex Pless (Home Town Bikes Team)||0:19:20|
|61||Eddie Odea (Topeak Ergon)||0:19:26|
|62||Ben Ortt (OMBC Pro)||0:19:35|
|63||Todd Freidinger (NCCS - Trek)||0:19:48|
|64||Daniel Gerow (Wolverines)||0:20:11|
|65||Daniel Sterling (Racing Greyhounds)||0:20:15|
|66||Eric Holmes (Racing Greyhounds)||0:20:19|
|67||Mitch Moen (R-Bikes)||0:22:06|
|69||Nick Boswell (Gas/Intrinsik)||0:23:12|
|70||Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell)|
|71||Omer Kem (Bissell)||0:23:13|
|72||David Williams (Bissell)||0:23:58|
|73||Mike Adams (Racing Greyhounds)||0:24:26|
|74||Brent Steinberg (Livetrainerace.Com)||0:24:44|
|76||Daniel Yankus (Team Giant)||0:28:28|
|77||Aaron McCready (Racing Greyhounds)||0:28:41|
|78||Chris Uberti (Panther)||0:30:48|
|79||Eric Bales (Poptarts)||0:33:18|
|80||Brendan Benson (Essex Brass)||0:37:42|
|81||Byron Boyer (BRC Real Estate)||0:40:31|
|82||Justin Perry (Cycling To Stop Chill)||0:42:33|
|83||Glen Mitchell (Bissell)||0:43:26|
|84||Bryan Marek (Cross Country Cycle)||0:45:17|
|85||Andrew Staub (Precisonmtb)||0:46:48|
|86||Dustin Hart (North Country Racers)||0:51:24|
|87||Tim Hiscock (Cycle Fit)||0:56:43|
|88||Cliff Kugler (Hammer Head Racing)||0:59:33|
|89||Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Trek)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Amanda Carey (Kenda)||1:59:11|
|2||Sara Kylander-Johnson (Trek Co-op)||0:02:39|
|3||Mackenzie Woodring (Priority Health)||0:05:00|
|5||Jamie Dinkins (Motor Mile)||0:06:03|
|6||Susan Stephens (Bell's Brewery)||0:07:00|
|7||Johanna Schmidt (Hagerty)||0:08:52|
|8||Heather Spencer (Racing Greyhounds)||0:09:37|
|9||Danielle Musto (Kenda)||0:11:09|
|10||Amanda Ryan (WSC/ACF)||0:16:06|
|11||Erin Vicary (Bell's Brewery)||0:16:56|
|12||Kelly Paterson (Wolverine/American C)||0:22:08|
|13||Andrea Matter (Gear Grinder)||0:26:09|
|14||Namrita O'Dea (Topeak-Ergon)||0:28:37|
|16||Kiersta Tucker (Team Wood N Wave)||0:42:52|
|17||Emily Benson (DRT Racing)||0:55:11|
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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews. She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.
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