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
Longtime World Tour pro Lachlan Morton finding beauty in Breck Epic debut
Swenson and Skarda remain unbeaten this week
By Devon O’Neil
BRECKENRIDGE — When Lachlan Morton rolled through the Stage 4 finish Wednesday afternoon, word already had reached those in attendance. He’d suffered another flat deep in the backcountry, his third in two days, and was left to get out on one wheel, hemorrhaging time. Placing eighth on the stage dropped him from third to fifth overall. Suddenly he had an eight-minute gap to close in the final two stages to claw back onto the overall podium.
Morton explained that his flat on West Ridge, high on the Colorado Trail after climbing from Keystone Gulch, had left little hope of repair. Yet he spent 10 minutes trying in vain on the side of the trail, before limping down to the final aid station and bumming a replacement wheel from the Santa Cruz team. “I tried to rim it as soft as I can,” he said, “because I need to ride this wheel tomorrow.” He’d also crashed during Stage 2, shredding his forearm, and generally had not been on lady luck’s good side since Sunday’s start—which, ahem, came one day after he finished second to Breck Epic leader Keegan Swenson in the Leadville 100.
Yet to understand Morton, one of cycling’s most meditative characters, is to understand he did not come here for the number next to his name at the end. “Focusing on results is in the past for me,” he said.
Morton, 29, has become a singular professional because of his refreshing approach to a sport that gobbles up talent and often spits it out. A member of the EF Education-Nippo team and a World Tour rider since 2012, Morton started mountain biking two years ago. During his career he has ridden the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España grand tours, finished the Colorado Trail in under four days, set a fastest known time on the Kokopelli Trail, and won the Tour of Utah. Earlier this summer, he made international waves by riding the entire Tour de France course, plus transfers, faster than the peloton. He averaged 190 miles a day for 18 days, sleeping outside sans support. “I just try to be genuine to things that motivate me and inspire me in a certain way,” he said.
The Breck Epic fit that mold long before he was given bib No. 2 behind Swenson’s No. 1. “It’s just a race I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. Morton’s parents first brought Lachlan, a native of New South Wales, Australia, to Breckenridge when he was 12, then every year thereafter until he was 16. The junior team that the Mortons ran, Real Aussie Kids, trained here each summer. “Breckenridge was the first place I ever visited in America. Well, that’s a lie. I went to Disney World first,” Morton chuckled. “It’s probably my favorite place in America. I would live here, but my wife [a graphic designer] would rather be in Boulder.”
Morton has no support this week. He’s racing a two-year-old Cannondale frame with gaping chips in the paint. After Stage 1, he sipped a Modelo at the finish while his competition sucked down recovery drinks. “I’m just doing the best I can with what I’ve got,” he said. Yet he’s found the race fulfilling, as he does with any adventure. “You’re basically getting shown around the best local rides for a week, and I get to mix it up with some of the fastest racers too.”
Morton’s approach is as rare as it is intentional. “When I started mountain biking, I said I would never do it competitively because I didn’t want to ruin it,” he said after finishing in 3 hours 32 minutes. “So when I’m on course, I’m having a good time and giving it a go, but if I were really serious about results, I’d go home today really disappointed. Instead, I’m going home to have a shower and then have a nice afternoon.”
Keegan Swenson won his 10th Breck Epic stage in 10 tries Wednesday, crossing the line after riding 41 miles in 3 hours 10 minutes, a minute faster than his 2019 time. As he has for the entire week, Swenson waited until late in the stage to put time into his Colombian rival, Luis Mejia, who finished in 3:12. The victory was a nice salvage for Swenson, who clipped a stump in Keystone Gulch and bent his derailleur hanger, leaving him without the use of his easiest gears. “The stump caught me on a hard right turn and lifted me up,” Swenson said. Morton witnessed what happened and was shocked Swenson didn’t go down. “That was a nice save,” he told his friend at the finish. Swenson now leads Mejia by 9 ½ minutes overall. Costa Rica’s Carlos Herrera moved into third overall Wednesday, while Nash Dory enjoyed his best finish of the week in fourth.
On the women’s side, Alexis Skarda won her fourth consecutive stage in 3:52. Rose Grant ended Evelyn Dong’s second-place run in 3:56, though Dong (4:02) remains comfortably second overall. Skarda leads by 19 minutes in the GC standings.
For those outside the field, it’s hard to comprehend just how fast even the midpack racers cover ground at the Breck Epic. But that’s especially true of the top third. Among this week’s standouts is Macky Franklin, a 34-year-old fat-tire chameleon from Taos, New Mexico. Franklin won the Singlespeed title at the Epic in 2012 and is the current Singlespeed national champion. He’s also competed in more than 20 Enduro World Series events, and makes a living as a pro racer and YouTube personality. This week he’s swept the Singlespeed division and finished 14th, 12th, 12th, and 13th overall, crossing in 3:42 Wednesday.
Franklin keeps more meat on his bones than the father-son duo of Chris and Justin Peck, who have run away with the usually tight Duo Open Men division. Chris, a 51-year-old engineer at Apple, and Justin, an 18-year-old college freshman-to-be (and one of at least a dozen teenagers in the race), hail from Los Gatos, California. Chris weighs 140 pounds and ski bummed in Breckenridge in his early 20s; Justin weighs 115 and can sometimes be heard hooting on the trail. They finished in 3:56 Wednesday and hold the 28th fastest GC time overall.