McElveen and Shields return to defend Under 25 titles at NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic

Payson McElveen (Competitive Cyclist) won the Under 25 men’s category at the 2014 NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race and will be back to defend his title again in 2015.

Payson McElveen (Competitive Cyclist) won the Under 25 men’s category at the 2014 NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race and will be back to defend his title again in 2015.

Many of the best young mountain bikers from across the United States will test themselves and race each other at the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race from May 24 to May 30, 2015 near State College, Pennsylvania.

With strong backing from Colt Training Systems, the seven-day race, renowned for its Singletrack Summer Camp-like feel, offers incredible support for developing Under 25 riders – the future stars of the sport of mountain biking.

“Supporting the Under 25 category was a no-brainer for Colt Training Systems,” said Colt McElwaine, Founder and Head Coach at Colt Training Systems, which started 11 years ago with a focus on junior and Under 25 athletes.

“There’s a magic to this event that goes far beyond the racing, and no group of racers are better positioned to take advantage of this then the Under 25s.  The NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic is a right of passage and a transformative experience for all who participate.”

Emily Shields (Stan’s NoTubes Elite Women’s Team) won the Under 25 women’s category at the 2014 NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race and will be back to defend her title again in 2015.

Emily Shields (Stan’s NoTubes Elite Women’s Team) won the Under 25 women’s category at the 2014 NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race and will be back to defend her title again in 2015.

The fastest young men

Last year’s Under 25 men’s winner Payson McElveen (Competitive Cyclist Team) of Durango, Colorado will line up as defending champion against a stellar field.

“Racing the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic last year was the highlight of my season,” said McElveen, who not only was the fastest under 25 racer, but was the third fastest among all elite men in the overall classification. “The NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic does a great job of giving younger up-and-coming riders a chance to shine. The pressure on us is low, but the opportunity is high.”

“I’m looking forward to coming back with a year’s experience under my belt. Last year, I was riding every stage blind and learning the race as I went,” said McElveen. “This year, I’m hoping that having a better idea of what I’m going into as well as another year’s worth of training will yield even better results and more fun!”

While last year’s Under 25 men’s runner-up, Cole Oberman, will be absent because he will be overseas racing the World Cup, McElveen will face two other top five finishers from 2014: Cameron Dodge (third) and Madison Matthews (fifth).

Cameron Dodge is a regular top contender in the Under 25 men’s category at the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race. He returns for another shot at victory in 2015.

Cameron Dodge is a regular top contender in the Under 25 men’s category at the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race. He returns for another shot at victory in 2015.

Hailing from Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, Dodge is racing the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic for the second time. His five-man team won the team category last year. “I’m looking forward to riding the pristine trails of central Pennsylvania again. The NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic is such a good race for Under 25s because it offers what are probably the most diverse conditions a young racer will experience in any given race,” said Dodge. “If you haven’t done this race yet, be sure to put it on your bucket list.”

Matthews is a State College local who won the Under 25 category two years ago. With his hometown knowledge of every rock and root on the trail, he’s expected to again be mixing it up with the best.

Last year’s sixth place Under 25 finisher Levi Kurlander (Ska/Zia/Trek MTB Race Team) and member of the winning Epic Team will line up as another strong contender from Durango, Colorado.

Kurlander appears to be well on his way to following in the footsteps of other great Durango riders such as Ned Overend, Todd Wells and Howard Grotts. “Coming back for my second year at the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic, I’m excited to be bringing more experience. Last year was my first year as an under 25 rider. I’ve been working with Colt Training Systems and know that my fitness will be top notch, so I can’t wait to get out there and throw down with the best in the country.”

“The NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic is an awesome race for Under 25 riders,” said Kurlander. “We get a rare opportunity to put our name on the results list next to some of the best mountain bikers out there, and it’s not very often you get to spend a week racing and hanging out with such a cool group of people. The cycling community is unbeatable.”

Possible caption: Under 25 racer Cody Phillips (Ibis Cycles Enduro Team) hopes to win the overall enduro classification at the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race later this month.

Possible caption: Under 25 racer Cody Phillips (Ibis Cycles Enduro Team) hopes to win the overall enduro classification at the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race later this month.

Cody Phillips (Ibis Cycles Enduro Team) of Altadena, California finished seventh in the Under 25 men’s division last year, and also won the open “bro-duro” competition (non-pro men’s and women’s week-long enduro) and the East Coast Rocks competition.

“Seven days of back-to-back racing is important for us young racers. We learn from each day and gain tons of experience,” said Phillips, who hopes to claim the title of the best enduro rider at this year’s race. “I’m looking forward to meeting more people and riding some East Coast rocks. And what better way to get warmed up for the enduro season than with seven days of enduro racing?”

Fresh off a win in the duo category at the Pisgah Stage Race this spring, Aaron Albright (NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic Team) of Hershey, Pennsylvania is stepping up from the three-day to the seven-day version of the race.

“I can’t wait to ride even more of the incredible trails that I got a taste of last year,” said Albright, who was third in the 2014 three-day race. “Last year the competition was stacked in the Under 25 category, with many of its riders beating elite riders for stage wins and podiums. If you can do well in this seven-day stage race, it shows that you have what it takes to excel in this sport.”

Another rider to watch is NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic newbie Cody Kaiser (LangeTwins/Specialized) of El Dorado Hills, California. The former junior cyclo-cross national champion and world championship team member is widely recognized for his bike handling skills.

“I’m looking forward to getting out and racing hard as well as the camaraderie that comes with all of us being out there and having a blast riding bikes,” said Kaiser. “The NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic is great for developing racers because we get out with a bunch of peers and like-minded racers and experience an event unlike anything else in the country. I can’t wait to get out to Pennsylvania and check out the riding that I’ve heard so much about.”

Lewis Gaffney (American Classic Xpedo Professional Mountain Bike Team p/b Maxxis), formerly of Angel Fire, New Mexico and currently residing in Brevard, North Carolina is another young pro mountain bike rider new to the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic.

“I’ve heard a ton of awesome things about the race, and I’m excited to spend a week racing on awesome singletrack,” said Gaffney, who was the 2014 Collegiate Cyclo-cross National Champion. “The Under 25 category is so competitive – I loved following the race last year.”

State College, Pennsylvania local Madison Matthews is a former Under 25 winner and always a favorite at the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race.

State College, Pennsylvania local Madison Matthews is a former Under 25 winner and always a favorite at the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race.

Finally, two other Under 25 contenders include Jorge Munoz (Twin City Cyclery/Sames) and Andrew Dillman.

Munoz, 17, of Laredo, Texas, is the only junior rider racing in the Under 25 field. He’ll be using the Trans-Sylvania Epic as training to prepare for a summer of Pro XCT and World Cup races as he builds up to an attempt at winning a junior national title and making the world championship team.

Dillman of Fairdale, Kentucky is a cyclo-cross specialist and reigning Collegiate Cyclo-cross National Champion for Marian University.

The fastest young women

Two of last year’s top three Under 25 women will be returning to the 2015 NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic.

Last year’s winner Emily Shields (Stan’s NoTubes Elite Women’s Team) of Winston Salem, North Carolina will be back to defend her title.

“The Under 25 category is great because we get recognized in our own category, but it’s also great that we get to compete with the elite racers and be scored among them,” said Shields, who was sixth among the elite women in 2014.

“I think my experience racing here will help me be better prepared,” said Shields. “I learned from a few small mistakes last year, and I know ahead of time what an exhausting but fun week this will be.”

Ellen Noble (Competitive Cyclist Mountain Bike Team) of Kennebunkport, Maine, who was third in 2014, said, “I’m looking forward to riding some of the most fun trails ever for the second year in a row. I have learned so much about myself as a rider since last year and can’t wait to apply that at one of my favorite races!”

“I love this race, and it’s transformed the way I ride,” said Noble. “My experience last year went above and beyond. I had my face kicked in every stage, yet I still had the time of my life – I can’t wait to do it all again against a stacked field.”

Ellen Noble (Competitive Cyclist) finished third in the Under 25 women’s classification at the 2014 NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race and will be back to go for the win in 2015.

Ellen Noble (Competitive Cyclist) finished third in the Under 25 women’s classification at the 2014 NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race and will be back to go for the win in 2015.

Following last year’s race, Noble went on to a career-best season, winning multiple mountain bike national championships in July before going on a tear and winning four UCI-categorized cyclo-cross races in the fall and winter. She capped off her stellar season by winning the Under 23 Cyclo-cross National Championships in Austin in January.

Libby White (Bicycle Express) of Auburn, New Hampshire leads the crop of young women new to the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic. The multiple time US Mountain Bike and Cyclo-cross Junior National Champion is coming off a fall that included podium finishes among the elite women in UCI Cyclo-cross events.

Emily Schaldach (Tokyo Joe’s Elite U23 Team) will represent Durango, Colorado in her first NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic race appearance.

“This will be my first stage race, and I’m excited to work through the process of racing day after day,” said Schaldach, who has made the podium at both mountain bike and cyclo-cross collegiate nationals. “The challenge of never fully recovering will be an interesting test of my abilities. I’m also stoked on the team dynamic and being surrounded by incredible riders and extensive talent all week. I expect it to be humbling and inspiring.”

Linnea Dixson (Eriksen Cycles) of Steamboat Springs, Colorado has represented the US as a junior rider at the Mountain Bike World Championships.

“I’m looking forward to technical riding in a new area with a great group of people,” said Dixson. “The NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic is such a good race for Under 25 riders because it gives us a chance to compete in a true stage race with challenging terrain. I’ve never visited Pennsylvania before, and this will be the perfect post-graduation celebration!”

Finally, Sammi Runnels (ATC Racing) of Austin, Texas, is one of the strongest female road and criterium racers in Texas. Known primarily as a road racing and crit specialist, she’ll bring a high level of fitness but will be challenged by the technicality of riding Pennsylvania’s rocks.

“I’m super stoked to be able to do such a long mountain bike race,” said Runnels. “Seven days of racing singletrack will surely do tons for my fitness and handling as well as my race mentality. This race will give us young racers a chance to push ourselves.”

A long-time supporter of developing riders, the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic will reward the winners of the Colt Training Systems Under 25 men’s and women’s classifications with a free solo entry to next year’s seven-day version of the race (TSEpic) while the winners of the Under 19 men’s and women’s classifications will win a free solo entry to next year’s three-day version of the race (TS3).

The NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic presented is made possible with the generous support of great partners like Pactimo, Lupine, Purple Lizard, Klean Kanteen, Dirt Rag, SRAM, Kona, BMC, ProGold, NUUN, Freeze Thaw Cycles and more!

For more information, visit OutdoorExperience.org or TSEpic.com; find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TransSylvaniaEpic; or follow us on Twitter @TransSylvania, #TSEpic, #TS3 and #TSEnduro.

To register for the NoTubes Trans-Sylvania Epic three-day seven-day race, visit https://www.bikereg.com/tsepic.

Stay tuned for live coverage updates during the race and video race coverage.

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