Steamboat Stinger – Steamboat, Colorado
Written by: Shannon Boffeli
Major Mountain Bike Racing Returns to Steamboat Springs
Tucked in the Western slope of the Rockies, Steamboat
Springs is home to some of the best mountain bike terrain in the state. Once
home to major mountain bike events like the Mercury Tour, Steamboat has been
off the racing radar for almost a decade.
All that changed Sunday morning with the inaugural Steamboat
Stinger. The 50-mile Stinger sent riders on two 25-mile laps up and over
Emerald Mountain on the south edge of Steamboat Springs.
Each lap featured 4,000 feet of relentless climbing followed
by technical singletrack descents. Temperatures in the high 80s left most of
the high-mountain locals feeling the heat.
Although all fields were stacked with talented riders, the
arrival of riders like Katie Compton (Rabobank/Giant), Tammy Jacques (Eriksen),
and Kelly Boniface (Moots) made the women’s open race the marquee event.
Just off the start Katie Compton took the lead until briefly
being overtaken by Jacques.
At this point the women had bridged up into the heart of the
men’s field and were forced to sit in until the next section of doubletrack.
"Once we hit the next road Katie Compton just shifted down
and took off,” said Boniface after the race. "She was so fast, I never saw her
Compton proved that while she may specialize in shorter
events, she has the legs for longer events as well.
The Rabobank/Giant rider powered her way through the course
making her way through the majority of the men’s field that started two minutes
in front of her.
Meanwhile, Boniface and Jacques were sorting things out in
second and third place.
Jacques held on to second through most of lap one until
Boniface, who was having a stellar day climbing, squeaked past the second time
up Emerald Mountain.
While Jacques stayed in striking distance she was never able
to reclaim the second spot.
In the end Compton finished with a 20-minute buffer, the
only female rider to finish the race in under 5 hours.
Kelly Boniface took second followed closely by Tammy
In the men’s race, it was the arrival of Cannondale’s Alex
Grant that shook things up. Grant, who was in town for vacation, was unaware
that a race was about to go down. Upon hearing of the event he decided to jump
Grant would be lining up with some of Colorado’s best
endurance riders including Kalan Beisel, Bryan Alders (Epic Endurance), and
Peter Kalmes (Honey Stinger).
The opening lap seemed to indicate this race was going to be
a close one. Bryan Alders started things off, climbing strong up and over
Emerald. Grant was first to close it down but Beisel quickly followed as did
The four-rider group stayed close as they shredded the
highly technical descent back down to the start finish.
Peter Kalmes led the way as the riders start the second
Early on in lap two Grant shut the door on the other riders’
hopes of taking home the win.
After the race, the Cannondale rider said, "I just wanted to
keep a steady pace. I figured if I could match my lap time from the previous
lap I would be pretty hard to beat.”
And he was right. By virtue of matching his opening lap time
almost exactly, Grant crushed his competitors. By the end, he held a gap of
almost 10 minutes.
Behind Grant, the battle was still on. Alders, who had been
climbing well all day, continued to open the gaps when the going got steep.
A strong performance would see him take the runner up spot
followed by Kalan Beisel and Daniel Matheny. Peter Kalmes rounded out the
Steamboat Stinger promoters were inspired by fun,
challenging events like the Laramie Enduro and Gunnison Growler and hoped to
recreate the atmosphere and excitement of these successful races. Virtually all
300 racers on hand would agree that the Stinger team succeeded in their
mission. Like the Enduro and Growler racers should add the Steamboat Stinger to
their list of races that are going to sell out in 10 minutes next year.