Wasatch Back 50 presented
by Ford– Midway, Utah
Championship Series #3
Alex Grant and Evelyn
Dong Conquer the Wasatch Back
Written by: Shannon Boffeli
Despite forecasts calling for overcast skies the inaugural
Wasatch Back 50 got started under a blue, cloudless sky and warm temperatures. WB
50 riders lined up for the mass start event in the early morning hours of July
21st. After a 5-mile neutral roll out from the Homestead Resort, riders
hit the gas just before arriving at the Soldier Hollow ski venue.
Several riders surged to the front including Dave Harward
(Plan 7), Alex Grant (Cannondale Factory), and South Africans Matthys Beukes
and Gert Heyns.
After exiting Soldier Hollow Grant, Beukes, and Heyns pushed
an incredible pace up the long Cascade Springs climb gapping Harward who
suffered his first of many flats in the aspen lined descent coming off Cascade
Now, 33 miles in, Beukes and Grant had dropped Heyns by 30
seconds and a two-man battled raged up the Cascade Springs climb again. The
Cannondale rider established a small gap of just seconds as they transitioned
to dirt just about the same time Matthys Beukes started to feel the air
escaping his rear tire.
After a quick tire repair the South African was up and
chasing the lone leader but Grant was gone for good.
Alex Grant had plenty of gas left in the tank as he blew
past the next feed zone and continued climbing, out of the saddle, up the
impossibly steep Cascade Springs road.
Beukes was now comfortably in second while his countryman
was coming under attack behind.
Wyoming rider Ben Aufderheide (The Hub) had closed the gap
to third place Gert Heyns. Aufderheide and Heyns were now riding together up
the long Cascade Springs climb. By their next pass through the Aqueduct trail Aufderheide
seemed to have the upper hand taking a comfortable lead into the final rocky
By the finish, Alex Grant had pulled ahead by more than 4
minutes, due to his impressive last lap speed and wise race strategy having
enough water on board to skip the third feed heading up Cascade Springs when
everyone else had to stop.
Matthys Beukes came home with a strong second place
performance putting over 5 minutes on third-placed Ben Aufderheide.
Gert Heyns held on for fourth place just in front of Casey
Zaugg (CocoNutz Fuel) who rode a strong race for fifth holding off challenges
from Chris Holley (4-Life) and Nick Fisher (Rooster’s/Bikers Edge).
The women’s field featured some top local talent and
Australian Katharine O’Shea adding some international flavor to the mix. Ten
pro women in all toed the start line with Evelyn Dong (White Pine Touring)
being the favorite. The White Pine rider has been on a hot streak lately
posting a top-10 finish at the cross country national championships and a top-5
at the Pro XCT event in Missoula the very next week.
Early on it was O’Shea and Dong leading into Soldier Hollow
with Meghan Sheridan (UtahMountainBiking.com), and Jen Hanks (Epic
Brewing/MTBRaceNews.com) close behind.
It didn’t take long for Evelyn Dong to start making her move
as she gapped her rivals by just over a minute at the 17-mile mark.
O’Shea had dropped off the pace with Meghan Sheridan surging
into second on the long road climb just in front of Hanks.
Evelyn Dong had no trouble navigating the long, rocky
descents of the WB 50 and continued to add to her lead throughout the race.
The battle between Hanks and Sheridan remained hot with
Hanks taking over second on the technical descents and Sheridan regaining the
spot on the following climb.
No one would be catching Evelyn Dong however as the White
Pine Touring rider took a well-deserved win after 4 ˝ hours of racing.
Meghan Sheridan turned it up on the descents and was able to
hold off Hanks over the remaining downhills taking second just 49 seconds in
front of Jen Hanks.
Fourth place went to KC Holley (4-Life) who rode a smart
race, pacing herself enough to overtake Erin Collins just before the final
The final race of the Utah State Championship Series will
take place in Draper, Utah on September 15th. The Draper Fall
Classic includes two laps on a 25-mile, virtually all singletrack, racecourse
through the Corner Canyon trails system. To get entered or learn more about the
Utah State Championship Series visit their website at http://www.raceuscs.com.
Pro men’s race winner Alex Grant took home a check for $933
while Pro women’s champion Evelyn Dong brought home $808 in race winnings
Payout for the Pro men went 8 deep and 5 deep for the ladies
courtesy of Ford Motor Company
1, Alex Grant 3:41:02
2, Matthys Beukes 3:45:25
3, Ben Aufderheide 3:50:13
4, Gert Heyns 3:52:25
5, Casey Zaugg 3:53:37
6, Nick Fisher 3:55:37
7, Chris Holley 4:01:21
8, Sam Sweetser 4:06:07
9, Erik Harrington 4:06:25
10, Todd Neumarker 4:10:51
11, Quinten Bingham 4:15:02
12, Geoffrey Montague 4:17:40
13, Paul Clark 4:26:58
14, Chris Cole 4;29:54
15, David Harward 4:35:56
16, Reed Wycoff 4:53:33
17, Justin Desilets 4:59:46
1, Evelyn Dong 4:34:34
2, Meghan Sheridan 4:41:11
3, Jen Hanks 4:42:00
4, KC Holley 4:47:04
5, Erin Swenson 4:49:46
6, Rachel Cieslewicz 5:10:12
7, Jenelle Kremer 5:25:06