Fat Tuesday! Race Preview: Vanias Vs. The Might of Einstein

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Fat Tuesday is here, and the battle under the lights will be truly amazing.

The third leg of the Northern Michigan Fat Bike Series is this very evening, and the big guns have all made the trip to Traverse City with the overall points picture in mind. After two stops, Chris Kushman is leading the way ahead of a bevy of Einstein Racing big guns, but with two stops left and extra points at St. Fatty’s, tonight’s race will be a huge boost for whoever takes the win.

In the Men’s, all eyes will turn to the renewal of the Jorden Wakeley and Alex Vanias showdown. The duo both suffered mechanicals and were forced out early at Fat Camp!, opening the way for Einstein Racing‘s Jason Lowetz and Chris Kushman to go for the in. Kushman, always under the radar, took a well-deserved triumph at Fat Camp!, and he won’t be forgetten on the start line. His teammate, Ryan Kennedy, is also out for blood after a consistent fat bike season where he has been ever-present in the top five but just short of taking a win. Einstein may also start Jason “The Man In Black” Whittaker as yet another threat. A dark horse pick that isn’t a long shot is Mickey Humpula, yet another Einstein Racing phenom. The Czech came out to Fat Chance! to take second place before skipping Fat Camp! in favor of some altitude training. He’ll be back Tuesday will podium aspirations.

The Women’s race may be the draw of the day, with series leader Chelsea Strate (Einstein Racing) looking to stay perfect in 2013. She’s yet to lose a race in cyclocross or fat bikes, and has steadily increased her level of dominance as she builds for both St. Fatty’s and the Barry-Roubaix. The gravel expert has transitioned well to the snow, and has made leaps and bounds every race this season. Hagerty Cycling makes its first challenge in the women’s races of the year, throwing out Melissa Ryba into the Solo category after taking a Duo category win last week with the Sovis Brothers. Ryba will be the most dangerous challenger to Strate all season and should provide a very stern test in her fat bike debut.

Expect an extremely tight and technical course punctuated with a few long straightaways across open fields. The Grand Traverse Civic Center, home of two stops from Cross the Bay, is a great venue and will provide a lot of unique challenges to racers, especially after racing at Timber Ridge. The race organizers have promised to create a very diverse course over the flatter terrain, giving the bigger riders a final chance to lay the power down before the hilly, unrelenting course awaiting riders at St. Fatty’s Day.

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