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Beating the rain and the climb… Bryant, Franco take Pro 1/2 race in men’s and women’s race

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR SPORTS EDITOR
Not even the rain nor the 9,000 feet of climb to the top of the Roan stop racers from participating in the 35th annual Roan Groan bike race – one of three stages in the Fat Tire Criterium held over the weekend in Carter County with the time trial stage taking place in Erwin.
 
With groups of cyclists starting out every five minutes from Cat Island Park in Elizabethton on Saturday morning, racers wasted little time in pedaling their way over the roadways leading to Roan Mountain as all groups had made their way through Hampton and began climbing around 10:15 am.
 
From there, it was the battle of the fittest as Isaac Bryant of Maplewood, Minnesota churned his way to a first-place finish covering the course in a time 3:39:13 in the Pro 1/2 Men’s race.
 
Chris Mathis riding with the Carolina Cycling Team from Columbia, South Carolina was just a tire length away finishing in second place with a time of 3:39:13.500.
 
Third place was claimed by Benjamin Wright from Lynchburg, Virginia who covered the course in 3:39:13.600 making it almost a photo finish at the finish line.
 
In the Masters 35+/45+ Division, 40-year-old Eric Nelson crossed the line in first place. The Mobile, Alabama native finished in a time of 2:55:12:000 as the Master division covered a shorter course than the Pro racers did.
 
Ryan Robinson from Anderson, South Carolina made it another photo finish for second place coming across the finish line in 2:55:12.100 while Ophir Sefina riding with the Crosstown Velo Racing Team from Sylva, North Carolina rounded out the top three riders with a time of 2:55:12.200.
 
Natalia Franco hailing from Knoxville came out the top finisher in the Women’s Pro 1/2 category clocking a time of 2:55:12.500 riding for Twenty20.
 
Debbie Milne had a solid finish collecting second place as the Supra Functional Food Bars.com rider from Greenville, South Carolina came across the finish line with a time of 2:58:22.000.
 
Last year’s Roan Groan winner Madeline Bemis riding locally for the Robson Forensic powered by Milligan College finished a strong third as the Corona, California native was five minutes off the pace of the front two riders finishing in 3:03:12.000.
 
In Cat 3 riding, Jesse Maris from Buckley, Washington finished first with a finishing time of 2:49:45.000 riding with the Pacific Office Automation Cycling team. 
 
Germantown, Maryland native Asher Tilghman riding with dc devo Racing Academy collected second place pedaling the course with a time of 2:49:50.000.
 
Third place went to Alexander Baker from Golden, Colorado who was on Tilghman’s rear tire finishing with a 2:49:50.100.
 
Cat 4 racing saw Ethan Sanchez from Winchester, California won first place with a finish of 1:43:25.000 riding for Team California.
 
Mitchell Snyder from Athens, Georgia and Doug Todd hailing from Asheville, North Carolina rounded out the top three respectively. Snyder rode to a 1:43:30.000 finish while Todd crossed the finish line with a 1:43:51.000.
 
In the Novice (Cat 5) category, local rider Noah Naseri from Limestone riding with Tri-Cities Road Club took first place by crossing with a time of 1:43:36.000.
 
Wes Pectol from Johnson City finished second turning a time of 1:43:52.000. Pectol was riding with the Quillen Road Racing team. Trent Hohenstreiter hailing from Bloomington, Indiana finished third with a 1:46:41.000.
 
In the Masters 40+/50+/60+ category on the men’s side, Mitchell Hopkins from Winston Salem, North Carolina and a member of Henderson Custom Homes rode to a first-place finish in a time of 1:54:54.000.
 
Jonathan Card riding with Mariner Cycling from Sylvania, Ohio took second place with a finishing time of 1:55:03.000. Third place went to Paul Carter of Clarksville riding with Mid South Racing who clocked a 1:55:08.
 
The final category, Women 3/4/5, saw Lisa Houser from New Orleans, Louisiana finished first with a time of 2:04:45.000. Another Robson Forensic powered by Milligan College rider, Marje Bemis, rode to a second-place finale with a time of 2:05:15.000.
 
Third place in the category was collected by Claire Windsor from Travelers Rest, South Carolina. The Supra Functional Food Bars.com rider crossed the line with a 2:06:43.000.
 
After completion of the Roan Groan, the riders traveled to Erwin to take place in the individual time trials and then returned to downtown Elizabethton on Sunday for the Fat Tire Criterium.