The Cannondale OverMountain team of Mark Weir and Jason Moeschler woke up a little haggard but happy that it was going to be a shortened 38k stage due to an impassable river crossing. Two unfortunates: the stage climbed 4,000 feet and it was actually 44k today thanks to a miscalculation in course planning.
Nonetheless the race must go on. Mark and Jason started at the front of the paved neutral rollout. Once they hit a long downhill before the gravel road climb Weir pulled a perfect 40mph manual right in the middle of the bunch in full control the entire time with a graceful folly through the center of the pack.
Today the boys made a unique decision: they would race alone. Or did they decide that.
"I had no choice in it because he just took off," said Jason. "But anyone who knows us knows I hate getting dropped by him so I just hammered the whole way and I made sure to keep him as close as possible."
So far their paces have been a bit off. Mark has been a fast starter while Jason as been slower to rev up his speed, especially with so much climbing early on.
"Mark definitely started way harder than I wanted to. He started this whole race harder than I wanted to so I just decided he can do what he wants and I'll keep up," continued Jason.
Mark ended up with a group of 10 strong guys and led up a long singletrack climb. Eventually he got a gap with another rider and they paced the whole way. As they neared the top Mark began to reel in other teams. "I was in my middle ring and they were either in their granny or hiking so I passed about seven guys doing that," stated Mark. "Of course, as the BC shape shifters are, I was already 17 miles in to a supposed 17 mile stage that suddenly went into another few miles of singletrack climbing before a long flat to downhill section."
Just behind was Jason who was picking up the stragglers of the group make was with as they fell off the pace.
"I think the general feeling here is people can't believe how fast we're climbing on these Jekylls," remarked Jason. "They just can't believe we're finishing as high as we are each day. It's awesome."
Eventually, when Mark hit the final downhill he passed more guys down a long, steep chute knowing that Jason would soon show up because it was just his kind of section: fast, steep and physical.
At the end the team got to use their Jekylls to full ability on a one mile, 30mph downhill filled with babyhead rocks where Jason was indeed putting time into Weir by staying off the brakes and careening down the track knowing Mark can't be that far ahead.
With half a mile of pavement to the finish Mark stopped 40 meters and waited just a short time for Jason to show up.
Ultimately the tactic paid off as Jason seems to be finding his legs and the OverMountain team ended up with a very impressive fourth on the day to claim 6th overall in GC.