Fran Claes and Serena Gordon Win the Finale; Claes and Dong Take the GC Titles
Written by: Marlee Dixon
You better be ready to race hard today! If the previous days were ‘endurance’ races, today is definitely an XC race. It’s the shortest day of the week and it’s the time to secure your overall standing or make up as much time as possible on competition. Today racers lined up in waves at the Ice rink and headed up Boreas Pass road briefly before jumping on the new Aspen Alley trail. Racers climbed up Aspen Alley to Bankers Tank to High Point to Iowa Mill Rd to Mountain Pride Trail. Then it’s a fun few miles of descending down mountain pride trail to bakers tank before climbing up Boreas Pass rd to the continential divide and Aid 1 (also Aid 2).
Next it’s down the Gold Dust trail – a loose, fun singletrack that turns into a flume trail followed by some more descending. The rain/hail the previous night had made this section more technical and slick than normal. Once out of Gold Dust, racers start climbing roads back up to Aid 2. Then it’s down Boreas Pass Rd to Indiana Creek Rd and the Blue River trail to the finish. Total distance for Day 6 is 29 miles and 3,379’ elevation gain.
Frans Claes (Loving Hut) took the lead into the first singletrack of the day, aspen alley and turned up the pace. He was able to get a small gap on the chase group of Ben Swanepoel (Squirt) and Bryan Dillon (Griggs Orthpedics) who would keep him close on the nearly 1-hour climb to the summit of Boreas Pass. A second chase group of Carl Decker (Giant) and Marcel Reiser (Bikesport) with Drew Free (Revolution/Peak Fasteners) dangling off the back would hold less than a 1 min gap to Swanepoel and Dillon.
Gaps remained consistent down the gold dust trail. On the second climb of the day, Claes would open up his gap to about 2 min as he crested Boreas Pass for a 2nd time leaving the others to race for the remaining podium spots. During the second climb of the day Free and Reiser were able to get away from Decker and work on closing the gap to Swanepoel and Dillon. On the final descent Free was finally able to close the gap to Swanepoel and Dillon and go on to capture 2nd with Dillon finishing 3rd just 30 seconds back.
For the Epic 6 day Women’s open it was Serena Gordon (Liv/Giant), Evelyn Dong (Shoair/Cannondale) and Kelly Boniface (Moots) who rode together for almost the entire race with Marlee Dixon (Pivot/Epic Brewing) about 2 minutes behind in 4th place. Kelly and Serena were only 2 minutes 43 seconds apart in the overall for 3rd place and both women were charging it.
Serena and Evelyn rode into the finish close to each other and Serena pushed ahead at the end for the stage win. She finished 1st today and will remain in 3rd overall. Evelyn Dong finished 2nd today and will remain the Breck Epic pro female winner. Kelly Boniface came in a close 3rd and will remain in 4th overall. Marlee Dixon came in 4th today and will remain in 2nd overall.
It’s been an extremely fun and challenging 6 days of racing covering 210 miles and over 30,000’ of elevation gain. It’s a race where everything in your normal life stops and racing becomes your sole focus in life. You meet new people and they become your partners in this crazy experience. Life becomes a pattern of race, recover, race, recover.
There are many highs and lows throughout the week with good days and bad days. There will probably be days you’ll wake up and feel like you’re on a death march – your body hurts everywhere, you’re utterly exhausted, you can’t remember what stage it is and now it’s time for you to pony up and race your heart out. Then you’ll summit Wheeler pass and hike your bike for hours and it will be similar to a death march. But then there are days where you’ll feel on top of the world and if you get a chance to look out at the scenery, you could almost sing like sound of music it’s so freaking beautiful. This race forces you to test yourself physically and mentally and that’s an experience that’s hard to forget. If you’re thinking about doing the Breck Epic then sign up. You’ll be glad you did.
And now on to Stage 7 as Mike McCormack wrote, “What about Stage 7?” you ask? The Gold Pan Saloon on Main Street. Bring your dancing pants. And a stunt liver. Don’t let the first review on TripAdvisor (“STAY AWAY!!!”) scare you.”