WORS presented by Trek began an impressive 23rd season in Iola, WI on Sunday, May 4th. The 2014 season opener, titled “The Iola Bump & Jump”, serves as a temperature check for many participants. It can be be the payoff of many months of training during Wisconsin’s long winters or it can be a harsh reality of unreadiness. Either way, racers are more than eager to dust of their rigs and take them to the dirt for, sometimes, the first time of the season. Concerns were had by some as to the weather conditions in the days leading up to the event. Slow melting of winter snow and rain in the area only days before the race led many to prepare for a mudfest. That, however, wasn’t the case, with a dryer than expected course full of fast descents, roots and switchbacks. The lineup at the start of the BelGioioso Elite Men’s race was stacked as usual, with names like Tristan Schouten (Rolf Prima/Attitude Sports), Nathan Guerra (Vision Cycling/Attitude Sports), Tyler Gauthier (Bike Marquette/Quick Stop), and Joseph Maloney (KS Energy Services/ Team Wisconsin) rolling up to the line. The first hill was dominated by Joseph (Joe-Mo) Maloney, stating that he had not planned the attack from the start. His plan was to sit in and get a feel for what the pack was going to do. But the legs had a plan of their own and with that Joe-Mo took the lead. Not to be outdone, Nathan Guerra grabbed onto Maloney’s wheel and hung in for the long haul. Tyler Gauthier tried to play it conservative and save his matches in the hopes that he would reel in Maloney and Guerra with the help of Eric Thompson(Mt Borah Epic team) and Tristan Schouten. But Maloney played the tactical card by using lap traffic to his advantage to gain some room between himself and Guerra and sealing the deal on first place. Guerra’s aggression to keep up with Maloney put him in a very comfortable 2nd place with over a two minute gap on third place finisher, Eric Thompson. This was Maloney’s first win in the WORS Elite series. In the BelGioioso Elite Women’s race, two of the top female cross country racers from the midwest once again faced off to see who had the legs to win. Seven-time WORS overall champ, Abigail Strigel(Honey Stinger/Bontrager) took on one of her favorite opponents, Cooper Dendel(Quick Stop Bike Shop). Dendel has spent most of the cold, snowy, upper Michigan winter on the trainer, waiting for her chance to dig into the dirt. The young college student decided to take a semester off to focus on racing. She definitely meant business at the Bump & Jump by putting Strigel through the paces. Never backing down from a challenge, Abby pushed herself to the limit to make sure not to lose Dendel’s wheel. Meanwhile, 19 year old Corrie Osborne(Team Extreme) had her own challenge trying to bring back Strigel and Dendel. Osborne hung onto 3rd overall. Dendel made a bold move going into the 3rd lap to broaden the gap over Strigel. Abby did not give up, but saw her opponents wheel slip away in the final lap. Dendel is shaping up to be a fierce competitor to anyone racing in the Cat1/Pro events in the midwest this summer. The WORS series will continue with the next event on May 18th with the “Crystal Lake Classic” at Camp Tesomas Boy Scout camp. Camp Tesomas (Hanna Venture Base) is located only minutes north of Rhinelander, where it’s set on the shores of Crystal Lake, a beautiful spring fed lake deserving of its name. This pristine setting is perfect for mountain biking with the lake making an excellent choice for cooling down after a hard ride through the woods.