Race Bikes for Leadville 100 – Round 4 of the Lifetime Grand Prix

Written by: Shannon Boffeli

In just a few hours many of North America’s top riders will be lining up in Leadville, Colorado, for the Leadville 100.

Saturday’s Leadville 100 course features just over 100 miles of mostly double track riding on an out-and-back style course. The Leadville course is more rugged than most in the Life Time Grand Prix which means all the top athletes will be on mountain bikes.

We got a sneak peak at what our favorite racers will be competing on as the Grand Prix turns to knobbies including top riders like: Sofia Gomez Villafane, Rose Grant, Keegan Swenson, Russell Finsterwald, Alexey Vermuelen, Melisa Rollins, Dylan Johnson, and more.

Sofia Gomez-Villafane: Specialized Epic Hardtail – Life Time Grand Prix rank: 1st

Sofia Gomez-Villafane’s Specialized Epic Hardtail. Photo by: Andy Cochrane

SGV is running Specialized Renegade 2.2 tires. Photo by: Andy Cochrane

SGV is running a full Shimano XTR bike with road pedals for better energy transfer. Photo by: Andy Cochrane

Photo by: Andy Cochrane

Keegan Swenson: Santa Cruz Highball – Life Time Grand Prix Rank: 1st

Keegan Swenson’s Santa Cruz Highball

Swenson is running Reserve 28 wheels with Maxxis Aspen ST 2.4 tires

Keegan’s race set up includes a 38-tooth ring with 10-52 cassette

Keegan’s cockpit includes the SQ Lab Innerbarends

Evelyn Dong: Juliana HT – Life Time Grand Prix rank: 5th

Evelyn Dong’s Santa Cruz Highball frame custom-painted to represent Juliana. She’s running Reserve 28 wheels with Maxxis Aspen 2.25 tires.

Russell Finsterwald: Specialized S-Works Epic EVO – Life Time Grand Prix rank: 2nd

Finsterwald is running Shimano road pedals for better energy transfer and Specialized Renegade 2.2 tires

Rose Grant: Juliana HT – Life Time Grand Prix rank: 6th

Grant is full SRAM AXS with 32-tooth ring and Quarq power meter. She has custom 26oz bottles from The Feed with Gu Roctain fuel.

Grant has a Rockshox SID Ultimate 100 fork with Reserve 28 wheels and Maxxis Aspen 2.25 EXO tires and Orange Seal sealant

Her race bike will feature ESI grips and Hammerhead Karoo 2 computer

Alexey Vermuelen: Factor Lando HT – Life Time Grand Prix rank: 3rd

Alexey Vermeulen will be running the Factor Lando HT at the upcoming Leadville 100

Vermeulen will be running Enve 525 wheels and Kenda Booster tires

Vermeulen runs a full Shimano XTR rig with ESI grips

Melisa Rollins: Trek Supercaliber – Life Time Grand Prix rank: 6th

Melisa Rollins Trek Supercaliber with Bontrager Kovee XXX wheels

Rollins is running Kenda Booster Pro 2.4 tires

Hannah Otto: Pivot Les SL – Life Time Grand Prix rank 10th

Hannah Otto’s Pivot Les SL with DT Swiss XRC 1200 wheels and Kenda Rush 2.2 tires. She also runs full Shimano XTR with Stages dual power meter. She’s using a 32-tooth chainring for Leadville.

Dylan Johnson: Factor Lando HT – Life Time Grand Prix rank 15th

Dylan Johnson’s Factor Lando HT

Johnson’s bike features Black Inc wheels with Continental Race King 2.2 tires.

Black Inc’s sleek one-piece stem/bar combo

Hannah Shell: Santa Cruz Blur – Life Time Grand Prix rank 17th

Hannah Shell will be riding the Santa Cruz Blur with the as yet unreleased HUNT Proven Race XC wheels and Pirelli Scorpion hard terrain tires.

Pirelli Scorpion tires and HUNT Proven Race XC wheels

Shell’s Blur is stacked with full Shimano XTR

Hannah is using the Garmin 1040 solar for navigating the 100 mile course.

Alexis Skarda: Santa Cruz Highball – Life Time Grand Prix rank 17th

Alexis Skarda will be aboard the Santa Cruz Highball with full SRAM XX components, 34 tooth chainring and Quarq power meter. Photo by: Devon Balet

Skarda will be running Reserve 28 wheels and Maxxis Aspen 2.4 tires. Photo by: Devon Balet

Stephen Davoust: Giant Anthem – Life Time Grand Prix rank 23rd

US marathon national champion Stephen Davoust on the Giant Anthem he will race at the Leadville 100

Davoust’s Giant Anthem sports the Fox Live valve system and a Fox 34. He’ll be running Giant XCR0 wheels and Maxxis Aspen 2.25 tires.

Stephen Davoust runs full Shimano XTR cockpit with Shimano Pro stem and bar

Click here to see our review of riders bikes from Unbound 2022 

Click here to see the full leaderboard from Life Time Grand Prix 2022

Mountain Bikers Still Rule After Round 2 of Life Time Grand Prix

Riders braved harrowing conditions in Emporia, Kansas, on Saturday testing their skill and determination to complete the Unbound Gravel 200.

Sofia Gomez-Villafane (Specialized) used smart riding in the early miles to stay clear of the chaos and toward the lead groups of male riders. In the second half, she transitioned to stomping out an unrelenting pace in a solo effort to distance her closest challengers and take the win in record time.

Lauren de Crescenzo (Cinch) took second followed by Emily Newsom (EF/Tibco).

For the men, a large early group finally broke apart leaving a lead group of five who marked one another for the final 30 miles eventually unleashing a 5-up finishing sprint won by gravel specialist Ivar Slik (Wilier) just in front of Life Time series leader Keegan Swenson (Santa Cruz) and former world tour rider Ian Boswell.

Riders encountered epic mud in the second half of the Flint Hills course as rainstorms left long sections of barely rideable peanut butter coated dirt roads.

After the first two rounds of the Life Time Grand Prix, which has included one mountain bike and one gravel event, the mountain bike duo of Sofia Gomez-Villafane and Keegan Swenson have taken control of the six race series.

Sofia Gomez-Villafane (SGV) takes the lead in the women’s category with a second place at Sea Otter Classic and the win at Unbound.

Keegan Swenson has started the series with a win at Sea Otter and second at Unbound, he takes home first place points for the Grand Prix being the first Grand Prix rider to cross the line.

After two rounds, SGV has the lead with 59 points in the Grand Prix standings. She is followed by world cup mountain biker Haley Smith (Maxxis Factory) and Evelyn Dong (Juliana Bikes) with 52 and 51 points respectively.

Tied for fourth is Emily Newsom and Melisa Rollins (Team Twenty 24).

The men’s Grand Prix is now led by mountain bike athletes Swenson and Russell Finsterwald (Specialized) who sits with 55 points to Swenson perfect score of 60.

The fat tire riders are being chased by a group of three road and gravel athletes including: Alexey Vermuelen (Juke Box), Rob Britton, and Lance Haidet.

Click Here to View the Top Riders Bikes From Unbound Gravel 200

Click Here for a Link to Full Life Time Grand Prix Leaderboard

Race Bikes for Unbound Gravel – Round 2 of the Life Time Grand Prix

Written by: Shannon Boffeli

Many of the world’s best riders are lining up in Emporia, Kansas, for the Unbound Gravel event – round two of the Life Time Grand Prix.

Saturday’s Unbound course features 200 miles of rolling gravel and dirt roads through the Flint Hills in eastern Kansas. Riders have chosen a wide variety of race set ups to get the most from their bikes in the first gravel race on the Life Time Grand Prix calendar.

We got a sneak peak at what our favorite mountain bike racers will competing on as the Grand Prix turns to gravel including top riders like: Sofia Gomez Villafane, Alexis Skarda, Rose Grant, Keegan Swenson, Russell Finsterwald, Melisa Rollins, Dylan Johnson, and more.

Sofia Gomez Villafane: Specialized Crux – Life Time Grand Prix Rank: 2nd

Sofia Gomez Villafane Specialized Crux


  • Drivetrain: Shimano Dura-ace/XTR/GRX with double chainring
  • Cockpit: Aero package
  • Tires: Specialized Pathfinder with inserts

Keegan Swenson: Santa Cruz Stigmata – Life Time Grand Prix Rank: 1st

Keegan Swenson’s Santa Cruz Stigmata


  • Drivetrain: SRAM Red 48-tooth single ring & 10-50 SRAM Eagle cassette
  • Wheels: Reserve 40/44 with Fillmore valves
  • Tires: Maxxis Refuse 40c with inserts – 28 psi front 30 psi rear
  • Cockpit: Zipp 40cm Service Course SL bar and stem
  • Computer: Garmin Edge 530
  • Bike Bags: Zipp Speed Box top tube bag & Almsthre saddle bag
  • Extras: 3 tubes, Stan’s NoTubes Dart, 3 Genuine Innovations Plugs – Loaded, 4 CO2s and hand pump

Alexis Skarda: Santa Cruz Stigmata – Life Time Grand Prix Rank: 3rd

Alexis Skarda’s Santa Cruz Stigmata


  • Drivetrain: SRAM Red 44-32t double chainring
  • Wheels: Reserve 34/37
  • Tires: Maxxis Refuse 40c with Tannus inserts

Stephan Davoust: Giant Revolt – Life Time Grand Prix Rank: DNF at Round 1

Stephan Davoust’s Giant Revolt
Stephan is Running Giant’s D-Fuse Handlebar and Seatpost to Dampen Vibrations on the Road
Giant Frame Bag for Extra Storage


  • Drivetrain: Shimano GRX Di2
  • Tires: Maxxis Rambler 45c silk shield with Cushcore
  • Cockpit: Giant D-Fuse handlebar and seatpost
  • Bike Bags: Giant frame bag

Evelyn Dong: Juliana Quincy – Life Time Grand Prix Rank: 5th

Evelyn Dong’s Juliana Quincy


  • Drivetrain: SRAM XPLR 46-tooth single ring with 10-44 cassette and k-edge chainguide
  • Wheels: Reserve Gravel 32
  • Tires: Maxxis Refuse with Mynsweeper inserts

Russell Finsterwald: Specialized Crux – Life Time Grand Prix Rank: 2nd

Russell Finsterwald’s Specialized Crux
Finsterwald’s cockpit is outfitted with a speaker


  • Drivetrain: Shimano Dura-Ace/GRX 48-tooth single ring with 11-46 cassette
  • Tires: Specialized Pathfinder Pro 42c
  • Cockpit: Specialized bar with Farr Bars aero package
  • Extras: Wireless speaker on stem for tunes to get him through the dark times

Kaysee Armstrong: Liv Devote – Life Time Grand Prix Rank: 9th

Kaysee Armstrong’s Liv Devote
Armstrong is using mountain bike pedals and shoes for the first time at Unbound
Armstrong is the only rider I’ve spoken with no running inserts in their tires


  • Drivetrain: Shimano GRX/Ultegra double chainring
  • Wheels: Giant 35 carbon
  • Tires: Maxxis Rambler 40c no inserts

Dylan Johnson: Factor LS – Life Time Grand Prix Rank: 13th

Dylan Johnson’s Factor LS


  • Drivetrain: Shimano Dura-Ace/GRX double chainring with Quarq power meter
  • Wheels: Black Inc
  • Tires: Specialized Pathfinder Pro with tubolight inserts
  • Cockpit: Black Inc carbon bar/stem combo
  • Computer: Wahoo Roam

Rose Grant: Juliana Quincy – Life Time Grand Prix Rank: 8th

Rose Grant’s Juliana Quincy


  • Drivetrain: SRAM Red with 44-tooth single ring 10-46 rear cassette
  • Wheels: Reserve 25
  • Tires: Maxxis Ramblers 40c with Orange Seal sealant
  • Computer: Hammerhead

Melisa Rollins: Felt Breed – Life Time Grand Prix Rank: 11th

Melisa Rollins’ Felt Breed


  • Drivetrain: SRAM XPLR etap AXS with Quarq power meter
  • Wheels: Zipp 303S
  • Tires: Kenda Flintridge 40c
  • Computer: Wahoo Roam

Interview with SRAM/Troy Lee Designs Racer Russell Finsterwald

Though he’s still a one of the younger pro’s on the national XC circuit, Russell Finsterwald has been a major presence on the American mountain bike scene for nearly a decade now. First as a junior rider, then as a top U23 racer for Subaru-Trek, and now as a pro for the SRAM/Troy Lee Designs Factory Team, Finsterwald has been on too many podiums to count and shows no signs of letting up.

He was kind enough to take a few minutes recently to check in with MTBRaceNews.com about his goals for the season, his recent switch to the SRAM/Troy Lee Designs team, and his experience coming up through the ranks the last several years.

MTBRacenews.com: You have a pretty unique gig as the lone XC representative on the SRAM/Troy Lee Designs program, can you tell us how that came about.

Russell Finsterwald: I’ve had a close relationship with the guys at SRAM for years being that they are also based in Colorado Springs. As a junior, I would help work in the race shop after school to earn a little extra cash. They were a big help in getting me a contract on the former Subaru – Gary Fisher Mountain Bike Team. Last year, Troy Lee Designs decided to partner up and form a new team with SRAM and the opportunity to be apart of the new program was an easy decision for me.

MTBRacenews.com: How has the switch been going from a big factory team, Trek, to what is essentially a solo program at SRAM/Troy Lee Designs? Is it tough not having teammates at races or has that not been much of a factor for you?

Russell Finsterwald: While racing on the Trek team I had a lot of great teammates whom I was able to learn a lot from. Had I not had those 4 years of picking up little pieces of information from guys like Sam and JHK, things may be a little different now. During those years I learned the ins and outs of traveling and racing, so I think I have a good system together now while on the road. The team provides excellent support while traveling which is a big help. I have a lot of good friends on the circuit who I ride with at the races, so I’m never really feeling the need for another XC teammate.

Photo Credit: Craig Glaspell

MTBRacenews.com: What are your big goals this season?

Russell Finsterwald: Each and every year I want to bring my racing to another level. I think I’ve gotten consistently faster every year since turning pro so I just want to keep that momentum rolling. That being said, the World Cups and Nationals are my ultimate goals this season. I showed myself at Worlds I can have good World Cups if everything comes together so that was a good confidence booster. I’m looking to top 30 the first round of World Cups and hopefully find the top step of the podium at Nationals.

MTBRacenews.com: What’s it like working so closely with Sram? Are you helping with product development? Have you been able to make any custom tweaks to your bike set up?

Russell Finsterwald: It’s been an awesome experience working with SRAM at a closer level than I have in the past. I was able to race on the new Rise 60 wheels for almost a full season before they were launched and did quite a bit of testing with them. Same with the RS-1. They truly provide me with the best equipment as soon as they can. I’m a part of the Field Test team which has been allowing to test all sorts of different products.

MTBRacenews.com: It’s still a little early, but talk of the Olympics is already starting. Is going to Rio a big goal for you? Is it something you’re focusing on already?

Russell Finsterwald: Rio is for sure a goal, but it is also a goal that I know I am going to have to make a big leap in order to achieve. I had a great January in Tucson but spent a good amount of February with a couple different sicknesses. I’ve had a better than expected first part of the season all things considered, so I am excited to see how the second half shapes up after getting some more consistent miles in over the next few weeks. I just want to keep climbing the ranks, get some solid results, and we will see where that takes me.

MTBRacenews.com: Awesome to see your teammate, Luca Shaw, taking 11th at the opening round of the Downhill World Cup. Have you had a chance to ride with Luca and (his brother) Walker much? Have they taught you any sneaky DH skills?

Russell Finsterwald: I was pretty excited to see Luca do that well in his first elite World Cup. The Shaw brother’s both have an incredible work ethic which is what you need to be at the top of World Cup field. At team camp, they were telling me about the different intervals and training they have been doing this winter. They are both really dedicated athletes so I’m excited to see how their careers develop over the next couple of years. I haven’t really been able to ride with them and pick up any skills yet but maybe I can drag them out for some World Cup pre rides and get some sneaky fast lines from them.

MTBRacenews.com: Thinking back a few years, was there a specific race after you made the jump from juniors to the pro field that made you think, ok, I can race and compete with these guys? Or was that a gradual process?

Russell Finsterwald: I was fortunate enough to have an excellent team with support straight out of the junior field which gave me confidence in the sense that other people believed in me. There is always this pressure you feel, that may not even exist, to prove you deserve the support you are getting so that lights a fire in you. I didn’t have immediate success right out of the junior field but I put together some good races and beat most the U23’s guys at the races, so I thought I was in an ok spot.


Photo Credit: Adrian Marcoux

MTBRacenews.com: What’s your favorite part of bike racing? What motivates you to keep at it and put in the work in training day in and day out?

Russell Finsterwald: I love racing because it’s where you get to see all your hard work come together. I enjoy the training side of racing quite a bit at times. I love pushing myself and the feeling of coming home after a hard days work. I guess you could say I’m addicted to releasing endorphins. Ha! Sitting in airplanes aside, another part I thoroughly enjoy is the travel. Mountain biking takes you to some pretty phenomenal places that I would have never seen unless I was traveling for a race. I counted the other day and I have been to 6 continents and 21 countries.

MTBRacenews.com: On the flip side, what, for you, is the most challenging aspect of being a professional racer?

Russell Finsterwald: When you aren’t getting the results you want it is a really tough sport. I’ve had some pretty crappy days on the bikes and you just have no idea what went wrong. I’m learning that there is a large mental side to the sport so learning how to react to different thoughts that go though your head leading into a race has helped a lot. The first two rounds of the World Cup last year were horrible for me. I had good training going into them, but I was mentally weak and I think that factored into my lackluster results over there. I have a few new tricks I’ve picked up since then, so I’m excited to go over there and see what I can do this year.

MTBRacenews.com: What are your favorite things to do when you’re not riding your bike?

Russell Finsterwald: I love just about anything outdoors that gives you a sense of adventure or adrenaline rush. I keep it pretty structured during race season, but as soon as Worlds is over I will be riding my dirt bike all over the Colorado mountains, bagging peaks and trying to capture some of Colorado’s beauty on my camera. I’m already itching to get in some short and sweet camping trips with some “recovery” hikes in once the snow melts.