Schouten and Eppen win WORS (Wisconsin Off-Road Series) Season Opener
by Claire Cannon
Tristan Schouten (Mafia / Felt) and Kim Eppen (Mercy-Specialized) won
the first race of the 2011 Wisconsin Off Road Series on Sunday at the Iola Bump
& Jump. Despite late-season snowfall in recent weeks the sandy course was
dry and fast, thanks to Herculean efforts by the race organizers, including
drainage of standing water in the ski jump bowl. Still, cool temperatures and
gusting winds presented a challenge in the open.
It was not the wind but the steep climbs that fractured the men’s field
early in the race. A group of four broke away within minutes of the start after
setting a blistering pace on a series of ascents. They were never caught.
Tristan Schouten, Brian Matter (Gear Grinders / Trek), Brian Eppen
(Mercy-Specialized), and Mike Anderson (Trek 29er / Sram) worked together
through the first lap to extend their lead on the rest of the field. During the
second lap, Schouten began to pull away on another steep climb and only Matter
could hold his wheel.
The two rode together until the fifth lap, when Schouten pulled ahead
to take the win in 1:37:07. Matter followed in second at 1:37:11. The two
Sheboygan racers train together, and share a love of both mountain bike racing
and cyclocross. Both Matter and Schouten have won the WORS Overall three times
in the last decade, and both are planning to contend for the Series Overall in
2011, as well as cyclocross Nationals in Madison, WI this January.
In hot pursuit of Schouten and Matter at Iola, Eppen and Anderson
traded places and worked together. During the fifth lap, Eppen pulled into the
lead in an open section and held his advantage to the finish, crossing the line
at 1:38:10, 7 seconds ahead of Anderson. Mike Phillips (Adventure 212 /
Specialized) led the charge from the chasing field of more than 60 Elite men to
finish in fifth at 1:39:25.
The women’s field also started fast, with past WORS Overall winner Kim
Eppen leading the charge closely followed by defending 2010 champ Abby Strigel
(Trek Stores of Madison). More than half the racers were still together in
their first pass into the jump bowl when Diana McFadden (Trek Mountain Co-op /
Adventure 212) dropped her chain. Within seconds, she’d been passed by more
than twenty women. She remounted her bike in last place, determined to chase
"I red-lined it,” said McFadden. "I just rode as hard as I could until
I saw [Adventure 212 teammates] Michelle [Peariso], Sarah [Agena] and Lisa
[Krayer]. Within a half lap, McFadden had caught her teammates, and the four
women began to chase Eppen together. While McFadden chased from behind the
defending champ Strigel, who had been riding with Eppen, broke her chain and
was unable to finish the race.
In pursuit of Eppen, the Adventure 212 women rode together through the
first lap. "It was cool coming through the spectator area all together,” said
Agena. "I had a great time all riding as a group.” Teammate Lisa Krayer agreed.
"We’ve all been out there by ourselves during a race, and this was just so much
more fun to all race together and push each other.”
In the second lap, McFadden began to pull away, still chasing Eppen,
who was now minutes ahead. "It happened gradually,” said McFadden. "I could
still see Sarah [Agena] behind me for a while.”
Eppen never looked back, and grew her gap to an insurmountable lead.
Her finish time of 1:28:59 was nearly 10 minutes ahead of McFadden who finished
in 1:38:14. The remaining podium positions went to Adventure 212, with Agena
(1:39:29), Krayer (1:40:59), and Peariso (1:42:16) rounding out the top five.
Although McFadden will not compete in the Series Overall, her teammates will be
back for the rest of the WORS races and will be a force to be reckoned with in
the Series Overall.
"I love this course," said Eppen after her win. "I
especially want to thank all of the volunteers who make this race possible.
They do an amazing job."
The next WORS event will be the Crystal Lake Classic on May 22, 2011.
Check wors.org for complete event details.
Click Here to view coverage of the 2010 Iola Bump & Jump on MTBRaceNews.com
Click Here to check out our interview from earlier this year with race winner Tristan Schouten