McElveen, Grotts among favorites
The Leadville 100-mile mountain bike race takes place on Saturday and it will be an important race for many Durango riders who competed in the Life Time Grand Prix presented by Mazda.
The Stages Cycling Leadville Trail 100 MTB will be the fourth of six Grand Prix events this year.
Currently, Fort Lewis College graduate Sofia Gomez Villafane sits in first place in the women’s division, followed by Haley Smith, just two points behind. Another Durango cyclist, Sarah Sturm, is in third place overall. Emily Newsom, who will not be in Leadville but recently competed in the Women’s Tour de France, is fourth.
On the men’s side, Keegan Swenson sits in first place in the men’s division, 15 points ahead of Russell Finserwald with Alexey Vermeulen in third. Swenson also won the U.S. national pro mountain bike cross-country title recently for the third year in a row, edging out Durangoan Christopher Blevins.
Durango’s Payson McElveen is still a favorite at Leadville, and a short video has just been released of his journey back from injury earlier this season. In March, McElveen suffered the heaviest fall he had ever suffered, breaking his collarbone and his hand. Those injuries forced him to miss the Sea Otter Classic, but he bounced back and earned a ninth-place finish at the Unbound Gravel 200 in Kansas. In the most recent race on the circuit, the Crusher in the Tushar, Cole Paton led the Durango contingent with a second place, finishing behind Swenson, while McElveen was fifth and Howard Grotts was eighth. Sturm finished third in the women’s race.
McElveen is 13th overall, one spot behind Paton. Grotts, one of only two cyclists to win the Leadville 100 three times in a row, sits 21st in the men’s standings while Stephen Davoust is 23rd.
Grotts finished third in Leadville last year, one spot ahead of McElveen.
The Leadville 100 bills itself as “the race of all races,” with 100 miles “over the extreme, high-altitude terrain of the Colorado Rockies.”
The mountain bike race begins at 10,152 feet and climbs up to 12,424 feet.
The following week, August 20, will be the Leadville Trail 100 Run.
The Leadville 100 mile race began in 1983 and was one of the first ultramarathons in the United States. The Leadville 100 mountain bike race started a few years later in 1994 and has since become one of the best known marathon mountain bike events.