Pisgah Stage Race- Stage 5 and Overall Results

Written by: Jen & Anthony Toops

Photos: Icon Media Asheville

Saturday, April 16th, 2022

The final stage of the 2022 Pisgah Stage Race is Industry Nine’s The Land of Waterfalls Route, named for the 250+ waterfalls in Transylvania County. The scenic route is 27 miles with 2301 feet in elevation gain that hits Butter Gap and Davidson River trails. Racers had a cold & wet morning to start but by the end of the stage the sun was shining bright. The final descent heads down the enduro, Bracken Mountain, and racers finish at Brevard Music center for awards and dinner.

Chris Tries (Men’s Masters) congratulated by Race Director Todd Branham of Blue Ridge Adventures
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Stage 5 Results

Women’s Open:

Kaysee Armstrong had a strong lead heading into the final stage. It was a battle for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th overall positions between Kait Boyle, Jocelyn Stel, and Taylor Kuyk-White who were only separated by a few minutes. It was unsure if Jocelyn Stel would be racing the final stage as she broke her frame on the Pilot rock descent on stage 4, but she was able to rent a bike for the day.

Kaysee Armstrong is all smiles after 5 stage wins!

Kaysee Armstrong took the stage 5 win, crowning her the overall cross county women’s winner. Kait Boyle finished strong and took 2nd, moving into 2nd overall. Taylor Kuyk-White was able to take Jocelyn on the final stage and finished 3rd moving her into the 3rd overall position.

Stage 5 women’s open podium: 1st Kaysee Armstrong, 2nd Kait Boyle, 3rd Taylor Kuyk-White

1st-Kaysee Armstrong 2:08:40

2nd-Kait Boyle 2:20:29

3rd-Taylor Kuyk-White 2:27:46

Men’s Open:

Kerry Werner had a comfortable lead heading into the final stage and was able to finish just a minute behind Carson Beckett and take the overall win. Carson Beckett was able to win stage 5 and finished 2nd overall. Cypress Gorry had another impressive finish taking 3rd on stage 5 and holding onto 3rd overall.

Stage 5 men’s open podium: 1st Carson Beckett, 2nd Kerry Werner, 3rd Cypress Gorry

1st-Carson Beckett 1:55:09

2nd-Kerry Werner 1:56:18

3rd-Cypress Gorry 1:57:22

Bracken Mountain Stage 5 Enduro

The final enduro was held on Bracken Mountain with a 1733 foot descent and 4.75 miles long. This was a fast flowing enduro with switchbacks and long pedal sections finishing at the Brevard Music Center.

Women’s Enduro:

Stage 5 women’s enduro podium: 1st Kaysee Armstrong, 2nd Kait Boyle, 3rd Jen Toops

1st-Kaysee Armstrong 24:16

2nd-Kait Boyle 26:30

3rd-Jen Toops 27:09

Jen Toops- racing co-ed duo with husband Anthony Toops snags a 3rd place enduro podium on the last stage.

Men’s Enduro:

Stage 5 men’s enduro podium: 1st Carson Beckett, 2nd Cypress Gorry, 3rd Kerry Werner

1st-Carson Beckett 21:15

2nd-Cypress Gorry 21:46

3rd-Kerry Werner 22:20

Watch the video recap!

Overall Pisgah Stage Race results

Women’s open:

Overall Cross Country women’s open podium: 1st Kaysee Armstrong, 2nd Kait Boyle, 3rd Taylor Kuyk-White

1st-Kaysee Armstrong (Liv) Knoxville, TN 13:02:40

2nd-Kait Boyle (Industry Nine- Pivot Pro Backcountry Team) Victor, ID 13:52:43

3rd-Taylor Kuyk-White (Philly Bike Expo P/B Industry Nine) Philadelphia, PA 13:59:14

4th-Jocelyn Stel (Cyclepath Oakville) Burlington, Ontario 14:08:11

5th-Nina Machnowski (Brevard College/Pivot Cycles/Pearl Izumi) Brevard, NC 15:42:53

Overall Pisgah Stage Race results

Men’s open:

Overall cross country men’s open podium: 1st Kerry Werner, 2nd Carson Beckett, 3rd Cypress Gorry

1st-Kerry Werner (Kona Adventure Team) Vinton, VA 10:39:44

2nd-Carson Beckett (Brevard College/Dirt Camp Devo) Brevard, NC 10:52:18

3rd-Cypress Gorry (Ride Kanuga/Specialized) Pisgah Forest, NC 11:21:02

4th-Nick Bragg (The Black Bibs/Starlight) Asheville, NC 11:26:55

5th-Kurt Refsnider (Industry Nine-Pivot Pro Backcountry Team) Prescott, AZ 11:43:43

Overall Women’s Enduro results:

1st-Kait Boyle (Industry Nine-Pivot Pro Backcountry Team) Victor, ID 1:08:51

2nd-Kaysee Armstrong (Liv) Knoxville, TN 1:09:12

3rd-Taylor Kuyk-White (Philly Bike Expo P/B Industry Nine) Philadelphia, PA 1:13:48

4th-Annie Schwartz (Team Noah Foundation) Saint Louis, MO 1:15:01

5th-Jen Toops (Pearl izumi/Pivot Cycles MTB Race Team) Marion, OH 1:17:08

Overall women’s enduro podium: 1st Kait Boyle, 2nd Kaysee Armstrong 3rd Taylor Kuyk-White

Overall Men’s Enduro results:

1st-Cypress Gorry (Ride Kanuga/Specialized) Pisgah Forest, NC 54:37

2nd-Kerry Werner (Kona Adventure Team) Vinton, VA 57:31

3rd-Carson Beckett (Brevard College/Dirt Camp Devo) Brevard, NC 58:55

4th-Ian Blythe (Flow Formulas TranPerfect) Broomfield, CO 1:00:29

5th-Nick Mackie, West Palm, FL 1:01:41

Overall men’s enduro podium: 1st Cypress Gorry, 2nd Kerry Werner 3rd Carson Beckett

CLICK HERE for overall stage results

Thank you to Blue Ridge Adventures team for putting on a great event!

Pisgah Stage Race- Stage 4- The Queen Stage

Written by Jen & Anthony Toops

Friday, April 15th, 2022

The Fox Factory’s Carl Schenck Route aka “The Queen Stage” was 31.5 miles long with 4113 feet of elevation gain. It included the most technical singletrack of all the stages plus a steep hike-a-bike. A cold 40 degree start gave way to sunny skies and temps in the 60’s.

Headed down Pilot Rock

Racers started at the The Cradle of Forestry-Birthplace of Forest Conservation in America inside Pisgah National forest. This stage is named after Dr. Carl Schenck who was brought to the area in 1895 by the Vanderbilt family to manage the forest. The race started on gravel and hit trails: Funnel Top, Squirrel Gap, Laurel Creek, FS5016, Laurel Mountain and Pilot Rock.

Watch the video recap!
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Women’s Open:

1st Kaysee Armstrong 3:15:31

2nd Kait Boyle 3:20:41

3rd Taylor Kuyk-White 3:23:33

Kaysee remains in the overall lead heading into stage 5. Taylor Kuyk-White in 2nd and Kait Boyle in 3rd. The women’s open class will be interesting to watch on stage five with Kait, Taylor and Jocelyn all about a minute and a half apart! Jocelyn unfortunately broke her frame heading down pilot rock so she will need to find a bike to ride for tomorrows stage.

Women’s open podium: 1st Kaysee Armstrong, 2nd Kait Boyle, 3rd Taylor Kuyk-White

Men’s Open:

1st Carson Beckett 2:38:10

2nd Kerry Werner 2:38:11

3rd Ian Blythe 2:46:19

Kerry Werner continues to lead the overall men heading into stage 5. Carson Beckett in 2nd and Cypress Gorry in 3rd.

Men’s open podium: 1st Carson Beckett, 2nd Kerry Werner, 3rd Ian Blythe
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Stage 4 Enduro- Pilot Rock

The Queen stage enduro was on the infamous Pilot Rock trail. The enduro was 2.25 miles long with a 1478 foot descent, plenty of rocks, tight technical switchbacks, roots, a creek crossing, hecklers, and a steep uphill pedal section at the end. A beast of a downhill to say the least.

Women’s Enduro:

1st Kait Boyle 12:24

2nd Annie Schwartz 13:30

3rd Kaysee Armstrong 13:31

In the overall women’s enduro, Kait Boyle remains in the lead going into the final stage. Kaysee Armstrong in 2nd and Taylor Kuyk-White in 3rd.

Women’s enduro podium: 1st Kait Boyle 12:24, 2nd Annie Schwartz 13:30, 3rd Kaysee Armstrong 13:31

Men’s Enduro:

1st Cypress Gorry 9:40

2nd Ian Blythe 10:45

3rd Nick Mackie 10:59

In the mens enduro, Cypress Gorry absolutely crushed the enduro segment and won by almost a minute. He leads the overall enduro heading into the final stage. Kerry Werner crashed heading down Pilot but remains in 2nd overall and Ian Blythe in 3rd.

Men’s enduro podium: 1st Cypress Gorry, 2nd Ian Blythe, 3rd Nick Mackie
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CLICK HERE for full results from each stage

Pisgah Stage Race- Stage 3

Thursday, April 14th, 2022

Sycamore Cycles’ White Squirrel Route

Stage 3 is sponsored by Sycamore Cycles and is aptly named the White squirrel Route since Brevard is well known for white squirrels. The area was populated with white squirrels after a circus train carrying them tipped over quite a few years back. This stage offers 29.5 miles and 6000 feet of climbing. The forecasted rain held off and racers were welcomed with sunny skies later in the stage.

The race starts at the bottom of Black Mountain. Racers immediately funnel into double track up Grassy Rd and over to a rooty fast decent down Sycamore Cove. From there, they loop back around to Thrift cove and climb Black Mountain. Racers then climb up Clawhammer road and descend down Avery Creek which is a fun technical downhill. After some more gravel climbing racers head down Bennett Gap which is the Enduro for stage 3. One more gravel climb and racers headed down Black Mountain to the finish line.

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Women’s Open

1st- Kaysee Armstrong 3:24

2nd- Taylor Kuyk-Whit 3:37

3rd- Jocelyn Stel 3:43

Kaysee Armstrong (Liv) continues to add to her overall lead after her third stage win in a row with a cumulative time of 7 hours 38 minutes. Taylor Kuyk-Whit moves into 2nd overall with a cumulative time of 8 hours 7 minutes, Jocelyn Stel just a minute and a half back in 3rd. Kait Boyle moved into fourth overall but still in podium contention with a time of 8 hours 11 minutes.

1st Kaysee Armstrong, 2nd Taylor Kuyk-Whit, 3rd Jocelyn Stel

Men’s Open

1st- Carson Beckett 2:37:07.275

2nd-Kerry Werner 2:37:07.708

3rd- Nick Bragg 2:54:12

Kerry Werner holds onto the overall lead with a cumulative time of 6 hours 5 minutes. Carson Beckett in 2nd overall with a time of 6 hours 18 minutes and Cypress Gorry in third overall with a time of 6 hours 33 minutes. Nick Bragg is sitting in 4th overall just 5 minutes back.

Men’s open podium: 1st Carson Beckett, 2nd Kerry Werner, 3rd Nick Bragg
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Stage 3 enduro was a 2.5 mile 1230 ft descent down Bennett Gap. This enduro had something for everyone with a hike-a-bike, pedal sections, rock drops, massive roots and plenty of Pisgah gnar.

Women’s Enduro:

1st- Kait Boyle 14:26

2nd- Kaysee Armstrong 15:14

3rd- Taylor Kuyk-Whit 15:17

Kait Boyle continues to lead the overall women’s enduro with a cumulative time of 29 minutes 55 seconds. Kaysee Armstrong in second with a time of 31 minutes 24 seconds. Taylor Kuyk-White is hot on Kaysee’s heels with a time of 31 minutes 35 seconds.

Women’s Enduro Podium: 1st Kait Boyle, 2nd Kaysee Armstrong, 3rd Taylor Kuyk-White

Men’s Enduro:

1st- Cypress Gorry 9:47

2nd- Kerry Werner 10:40

3rd- Carson Beckett 10:43

Cypress Gorry continues to lead the overall men’s enduro with a cumulative time of 23 minutes 9 seconds. Kerry Werner in 2nd with a time of 23 minutes 59 seconds. Ian Blythe holds down 3rd place with a time of 26 minutes 11 seconds. A very close race in the men’s overall enduro with Carson Beckett, Nick Bragg, and Nick Mackie just seconds from a podium position. How will tomorrow play out after the famous Pilot Rock enduro descent?

Men’s Enduro podium: 1st Cypress Gorry, 2nd Kerry Werner, 3rd Carson Beckett
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Watch the video recap!

CLICK HERE for full results from each stage

Written by Jen & Anthony Toops

Photos by Icon Media Ashville

Pisgah Stage Race- Stage 1

Blue Ridge Adventures

Tuesday, April 12th, 2022

Squirts Looking Glass Route

For 2022, a new opening stage was unveiled, making it logistically easier on everyone. This allowed racers to start and finish in the same location for 3 days in a row. The new opening stage had a 5 mile warm up ride from the on the Brevard pathway. After arriving at the Railroad Depot park, the 15.5 mile adventure begins with a heart pumping climb up Bracken Mountain, a mix of machine built trails, showcasing the newest trail Stoney Knob, and a high speed Enduro down Joel Branch.

  • 15.5 miles / 25 km
  • 2,200 ft / 670 m  elevation gain
  • Named for Looking Glass Rock – a nearly 4,000′ tall piece of exposed whiteside granite

Women’s open:

Coming off racing the Cape Epic and the Lifetime Grand Prix, Kaysee Armstrong (Liv), from Knoxville, TN, took the win with a time of 1:20:30. Taking second with a time of 1:23:14 was, Jocelyn Stel (Liv), making the trek down from Canada to race. Rounding out the women’s open podium was, Taylor Kuyk-White (Philly Bike Expo, Industry Nine) with a time of 1:24:55

Women’s Open Podium-1st: Kaysee Armstrong, 2nd: Jocelyn Stel, 3rd: Taylor Kuyk-White

Men’s Open:

A very close race in the men’s open division. Local Cypress Gorry (Ride Kanuga Specialized), took the win on stage 1 finishing with a time of 1:08:09. Hot on his heels was another local, Tyler Clark (Brevard College), taking second with a time of 1:08:11.0. PSR veteran, Kerry Werner (Kona) from VA, rounded out the podium with a time of 1:08:11.04. This will be an exciting division to watch over the next few stages!

Men’s Open Podium- 1st: Cypress Gorry, 2nd: Tyler Clark, 3rd: Kerry Werner

Enduro: Within each stage of the Pisgah Stage Race there’s a timed Enduro segment. Racers are competing not only for bragging rights but also a cash purse given out to the overall top female and male riders at the end of the 5 stages.

Todays enduro was an all-out attack down the Joel Branch gravel forest road. Riders had to manage maintaining speed throughout the segment, with a lack of traction in the corners. The gravel definitly presented a new challenge for an enduro win.

Women’s Enduro:

1st: Hannah Arensman 6:16.4, 2nd: Kait Boyle 6:16.6, 3rd: Jocelyn Stel 6:22.3

Women’s Enduro podium-1st: Hannah Arensman, 2nd: Kait Boyle, 3rd: Jocelyn Stel

Men’s Enduro:

1st: Cypress Gorry 5:35.5, 2nd: Kerry Werner 5:35.5, 3rd: Tyler Clark 5:36

Men’s Enduro Podium: 1st: Cypress Gorry, 2nd: Kerry Werner, 3rd: Tyler Clark

CLICK HERE for full results from Stage 1

Written by: Jen & Anthony Toops

Moab Rocks – Stage 2- Katerina Nash Widens Her Lead While Geoff Kabush Moves Into 1st Place 

Early this morning racers shuttled to the Klondike Bluffs trail system 20 minutes north of Moab where they battled through 25 miles of vast rocky trail system racing with a combination of slickrock trails and fast flowy single track.

Peter Stetina leads the pro men’s field onto the slickrock. Photo by: Noah Sears

Today’s course, on the Klondike Bluffs trail system, had over 2200’ of elevation gain in the most XC stage of the race.  Racers mentioned their favorite parts being the incredible views on Alaska Ridge and the awesome Moab experience of climbing and descending grippy slickrock!

For the pro women, Katerina Nash (Clif Pro Team) increased her overall lead finishing 6 minutes ahead of the women’s pro field (2:12:56).  Jennifer Gersbach finished a strong race today in 2nd place (2:18:06) only 13 seconds ahead of Lauren Cantwell (Orbea/Velocio) (2:18:19).

Jen Gersbach crushed stage 2 moving up 3 spots in the GC. Photo by: Noah Sears

Nash took off from the start with Cantwell in 2nd place.  Cantwell was in 2nd place for most of the race but at the end of the last descent she made a technical miscue that let Gersbach flash by. She lost the group she was riding with and with a strong headwind heading to the finish, Cantwell wasn’t able to catch back on finishing 3rd.

 For the GC, Nash leads by 16 minutes while Gersbach moves from 5th into 2nd place. Karen Jarchow (Revel Bikes) rounds out the top three women’s podium only 1 minute 20 seconds back from 2nd place.   

Bradyn Lange looks to shake things up in stage 2. Photo by Noah Sears

For the pro men, Geoff Kabush (Yeti-Maxxis-Shimano-Fox) won today’s stage by over 40 seconds. Starting off the race Kabush was in a large lead group in the early slickrock sections.  Bradyn Lange (Cycle Progression) and Carter Nieuwesteeg (Santa Cruz) were leading on Baby Steps trail followed by Kabush then GC leader Stephan Davoust (Giant-Maxxis-Fox)  and Ivan Sippy (Team Durango). 

In the middle sectors of the race Kabush pushed ahead taking a huge lead and finishing solo in 1st place. A multi-time Moab Rocks winner, it’s not surprising to see Kabush on the top step of the podium as he holds off his younger challengers for the GC.  Lange finished close behind in 2nd place (1:54:08) with Stephan Davoust less than a minute back in third place (1:54:12).

Geoff Kabush going solo to win stage 2 and jump into the lead on GC. Photo by: Noah Sears

 Kabush moves into 1st overall leading the pro men’s field by 30 seconds (3:35:01).  Davoust is in 2nd (3:35:32) with Lange only 4 seconds back in 3rd place (3:35:36).

Tomorrow is the final day of Moab Rocks as racers compete on the Mag 7 trail system.  With shake ups in both the men’s and women’s field, it will be exciting final race.

Full results at: https://zone4.ca/event/2022/29F4F1AE/

Carter Nieuwesteeg rallies on the Klondike Bluffs trails. Photo by: Noah Sears

Moab Rocks 3-Day Stage Race – Stage 1

The legendary Moab Rocks 3-day stage race started this morning in downtown Moab, UT.   It was a beautiful day with warm temperatures as racers started off to the classic Transrockies tune of “Highway to Hell”.  The course began with a difficult 13 mile climb up Sand Flats Road as riders gained over 3000’ of elevation.  Once at the top they turned onto Porcupine Rim where they were rewarded with an exhilarating 10-mile descent down one of the most iconic mountain bike trails in the world. 

Photo Credit @mnykphotos

For the pro women, Katerina Nash (Clif Pro Team) started strong and stayed in the lead for the entire race finishing in a time of 1:58:51.  Helena Plasschaert was 2nd up the Sand Flats climb but was passed by Karen Jarchow (Revel Bikes) on the descent.  Jarchow finished 2nd in a time of 2:05:49. Liza Hartlaub finished in 3rd place, less then a minute back from Jarchow (2:06:28).

Photo Credit @mnykphotos

For the pro men, the lead 15 men stayed together up the Sand Flats climb until two miles from the top when Peter Stetina started to attack and the group was split up.  It was reigning US marathon national champion Stephan Davoust (Giant-Maxxis-Fox), who won the stage in a time of 1:41:19.

Less then 10 seconds back, Bradyn Lange (Cycle Progression) finished 2nd place (1:41:27) followed by multi-time Moab Rocks winner and Olympian, Geoff Kabush (Yeti-Maxxis-Shimano-Fox) in 3rd place (1:41:37).  With the top three men less than 20 seconds apart, it’s going to be an exciting race.

Photo Credit @mnykphotos

Stay tuned as tomorrow racers take on the Klondike Bluffs Trail System.

See full results at: https://zone4.ca/event/2022/29F4F1AE/

Photo Credit @mnykphotos

2022 Pisgah Stage Race Preview

Written by: Jen & Anthony Toops

After getting postponed for several years due to the pandemic, the Pisgah Stage Race is officially ON for 2022. Presented by Blue Ridge Adventures, the Pisgah Stage Race takes place April 11th-16th, 2022 in Brevard, North Carolina. The PSR is officially sold out for 2022, but mark your calendars for mid May when registration opens for 2023.

This 5-stage race takes riders on a tour of Pisgah, through the temperate rain forest sampling some of the best singletrack Pisgah has to offer. The race traverses over 140 miles and climbs 20000+ feet with scenic views, waterfalls, creek crossings and is a mix of 76% singletrack, 19% dirt road, and 5% asphalt. As always, racers can also test themselves in the timed enduro section on each stage which has its own unique awards and overall crown.

NEW for 2022

A new opening stage has been unveiled for 2022 making it logistically easier on everyone. This allows racers to start and finish in the same location for 3 days in a row. The new opening stage has a 5 mile warm up ride on the Brevard pathway. After arriving at the Railroad Depot park, the 15.5 mile adventure begins with a mix of machine built trails, and as always a taste of that technical backcountry Pisgah singletrack.

PSR: 5 days, 140 miles, 20,000+ft of elevation gain. 76% Singletrack- 19% Dirt road – 5% Asphalt. 5 stellar MTB routes in Pisgah National forest.

2022 Pisgah Stage Race Amenities: included with entry

  • 5 well marked courses with enduro segment each day
  • Instant chip timed results
  • Daily leader’s jersey for all categories
  • Fully stocked rest stops including mechanical and medical assistance
  • Drop system
  • Recovery zone after each stage
  • Bike wash station
  • Breakfast each morning: Scones, coffee, granola, yogurt and fruit
  • 6 locally sourced dinners: Click Here for 2022 dinner menu
  • Finishers T-Shirt
  • PSR jersey for all participants registered by March 15th
  • Custom Crafted Prizes –  Awarded to top three in each category. $750, $500, $250 to top three overall men and women for the cross country. $150, $130, $120 to the top 3 overall enduro men and women.

Additional add on services that are still available for purchase: CLICK HERE to purchase

  • Mechanic service from Sycamore Cycles
  • Daily post race massage: 15 minutes for $30, 30 minutes for $60
  • Training plans from previous PSR winner Tristan Cowie
  • Nutrition plan by Emily Werner. Zoom presentation on 3/28/21
  • On site Cabins – single room weekly rental for $600

New for 2022- Stage 1: Squirts Looking Glass Route- Tuesday, April 12th, 2022

Stage 2: Athletic Brewing Co’s Promised Land Route- Wednesday, April 13th, 2022

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Stage 3: Sycamore Cycles’ White Squirrel Route- Thursday, April 14th 2022

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Stage 4: Fox Factory’s Carl Schenek Route- Friday, April 15th 2022

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Stage 5: Industry Nine’s The land of the Waterfalls Route- Saturday, April 16th, 2022

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Evelyn Dong and Cal Skilsky win Moab Rocks Stage 1!

Moab Rocks Stage 1 Start

Top Pro Women:

  1. Evelyn Dong 1:57:44.9
  2. Melisa Rollins 2:11:13.2
  3. Jennifer Smith 2:14:56.7

Top Pro Men:

  1. Cal Skilsky 1:43:38.6
  2. Rotem Ishay 1:44:34.4
  3. Macky Franklin 1:44:40.0

See Full Results at: https://zone4.ca/race/2021-10-16/7eaca1ca/results/

Evelyn Dong wins the Women’s Open Stage 1
Moab Rocks Stage 1 Porcupine Rim
Racers on Porcupine Rim

Breck Epic 2021 Stage 6: Gold Dust

Alexis Skarda and Keegan Swenson seal their Breck Epic 2021 wins on the final stage.

Alexis Skarda sums up her week. Photo by Devin Balet
Keegan Swenson with the early lead on stage 6. Photo by Devin Balet

Often times in stage racing when the leader has a commanding lead, the final stage is more like a victory lap than a hard-fought battle for the stage win. This was not the case on the final day of the 2021 Breck Epic. Both the women’s and men’s race leaders ended the final stage in a sprint finish. Alexis Skarda took her sixth of six stage wins in a sprint over Rose Grant. Grant seemed to get stronger each day, or at least more recovered from her Leadville 100 win the day before the Breck Epic started.

Alexis Skarda takes an early lead on the final stage. Photo by Devin Balet
Rose Grant riding strong on day 6 just missing out on a stage win. Photo by Eddie Clark
Alexis Skarda leading Evelyn Dong on the final stage. Photo by Eddie Clark
Alexis Skarda takes the final stage win just in front of Rose Grant. Photo by Devin Balet
Rebecca Gross enjoying her final day on course. Photo by Eddie Clark

Keegan Swenson sprinted to the finish against race runner-up Luis Mejia. Mejia edged out Swenson in a photo finish. Full results here.

Riders start fast on the final stage of Breck Epic. Photo by Devin Balet
Keegan Swenson and Luis Mejia have a small gap on the chasers coming up Boreas Pass road. Photo by Eddie Clark
John Rauen on the final day of Breck Epic. Photo by Devin Balet
Amazing scenery welcomes riders each day of the Breck Epic. Photo by Devin Balet
Luis Mejia and Keegan Swenson open a lead on the chase group. Photo by Devin Balet
A flat right at the finish line! Photo by Devin Balet
Good times at the finish line. Photo by Devin Balet
Singlespeed race winner Macky Franklin on the final climb of the 6-day Breck Epic. Photo by Eddie Clark
Riders crest Boreas Pass road before a final descent back to town. Photo by Eddie Clark
Photo by Eddie Clark
Amy Chandos putting the finishing touches on a podium finish at the 2021 Breck Epic. Photo by Eddie Clark
Mike McCormack at the final podium ceremony. Photo by Eddie Clark
Mike McCormack sits in front of his race team. Photo by Eddie Clark
The pro men’s podium. Photo by Eddie Clark
The pro women’s podium. Photo by Eddie Clark
???. Photo by Eddie Clark
Snow covers the peaks where riders were just yesterday. Photo by Eddie Clark
race director Mike McCormack at the end of a week of racing. Photo by Eddie Clark

Breck Epic-2021 Stage 1 Pennsylvania Creek

Alexis Skarda takes Day 1 of Breck Epic

Alexia Skarda on her way to a stage 1 finish. Photo by Liam Doran

Swenson picks up where he left off in Epic’s opening stage

2019 champ shows no ill effects after winning Leadville 100 on Saturday; Skarda takes lead among women

Keegan Swenson and Rose Grant dap it up on the start line. Photo by Devon Balet
Rose Grant and Alexis Skarda line up for the start on day 1. Photo by Devon Balet

By Devon O’Neil

BRECKENRIDGE — Two years after the last Breck Epic was staged in Colorado’s singletrack kingdom, much of what we know about the world has changed dramatically. But a few things haven’t, foremost: Keegan Swenson is still the man to beat in Breckenridge. Swenson, the 27-year-old defending champion from Heber City, Utah, made a late pass Sunday to beat a familiar foe in Colombia’s Luis Mejia and start the six-stage Epic with a four-second victory. He completed the 36-mile course in 2 hours 44 minutes.

The duo distanced themselves early on from the rest of the field, with Mejia—still smarting from a series of flat tires that derailed his 2019 bid to challenge Swenson—turning the screws on America’s most versatile racer. Swenson had won the Leadville 100 the prior day in 6 hours 11 minutes, the eighth fastest time in that race’s history. He’d also defended his XC national title in July and narrowly missed qualifying for the Olympics. He showed little weariness Sunday morning, less than 24 hours after his Leadville win, as the Epic kicked off on perfectly tack-ified dirt thanks to a brief rain shower. Content to chase Mejia’s frequent uphill surges and set the pace on the descents, Swenson found himself trailing the 36-year-old Colombian on the final downhill, until they reached the mini freeride features on Barney Flow. There, Swenson saw a window.

Riders start stage 1 of the 2021 Breck Epic. Photo by Liam Doran

“He wasn’t jumping the doubles and I started jumping the doubles and gained some time,” Swenson said. “Then I took one of the log skinnies and made the pass.”

Longtime World Tour racer Lachlan Morton of Australia held third for much of the day until a sprint for the finish with Costa Rica’s Carlos Herrera saw Herrera edge him by a few thousandths.

SKARDA’S FAST START

Swenson wasn’t the only Santa Cruz Bicycles team member who enjoyed a happy Sunday. Breck Epic rookie Alexis Skarda of Grand Junction led from start to finish ahead of Epic veteran Evelyn Dong and a host of other challengers, winning by 25 seconds. Skarda said she concentrated on staying under her target heartrate of 170bpm to preserve energy for the subsequent stages. She’d trained for the Epic by riding—and winning—the Telluride 100 last month. She also finished second at XC nationals to 2021 Olympian Erin Huck, another Epic vet. Though Skarda won on the same bike as Swenson—a Blur CC—she rode a 100mm fork while he opted for the cushier 120mm.

Skarda and Dong figure to see more challenges later this week from five-time national marathon champ Rose Grant, who won Leadville on Saturday and finished TK SUNDAY.

Evelyn Dong sending her way to the finish line. Photo by Liam Doran

“I figured if I didn’t go too crazy, I wouldn’t ruin it for the rest of the week,” Skarda said at the Carter Park finish. “But it’s tough when you’re feeling fresh to not go too hard.”

BIENVENIDO A LOS TICOS

Though the pandemic changed many racers’ plans, especially international competitors, plenty still braved the travel it took to get here. They include two dozen Costa Ricans from San José, who are riding in custom white jerseys this week. Due to a 9 p.m. curfew imposed in their country, riders couldn’t count on night miles to build their training base. Instead, they rose early—and often. Epic rookie Isaac Centeno, 26, trained six days a week for six months, starting at 5 a.m. “My friend Pablo told me to come because it’s his fourth time here,” Centeno said. “I just want to explore different landscapes and weather.”

Adriana Rojas splashes through stage 1 of the Breck Epic. Photo by Liam Doran

STATS AND STUFF

Sunday’s opening stage saw 387 riders start. More than seven hours later, all but one crossed the finish. Pro racer Kyle Trudeau crashed hard coming down the notoriously tricky Grind into Indiana Creek, telling a teammate he thought he’d broken some ribs. He abandoned the race—but not until he’d finished a grueling climb to Boreas Pass Road. In all, the stage covered 36 miles and roughly 5,000 vertical feet. Full results can be found here:

HOW DO YOU FEEL?

Each day, we ask this very simple question at some point on course, usually at the top of a merciless climb. Today it was posed near the top of Little French.

“Legs don’t feel great, but it’s the first day, they’re not supposed to.”

“Like 50 cents.”

“Meh.”

“Pretty good. Actually, great.”

“This is heinous. Wait, is this Heinous?” [Ed’s note: No. Heinous Hill will introduce itself in Stage 2.]

“Horrible.”

“Wonderful!”

“Could be worse.”

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

Millard Allen won the singlespeed division at Leadville on Saturday and stayed in the Cloud City for the awards Sunday morning, which meant he arrived late to start the Epic. He hopped on course at 10 a.m. and caught the sweep halfway up Pennsylvania Gulch, eventually finishing in 3:54 on a geared bike.

Jenny Smith locked in a top-5 on day 1. Photo by Liam Doran
Alexis Skarda on day 1. Photo by Liam Doran
Lachlan Morton leads the chase group on stage 1. Photo by Liam Doran
Amy Chandos loving the altitude and wildflowers on stage 1. Photo by Liam Doran
Riders take in the views around Breckenridge. Photo by Liam Doran
Lachlan Morton descends through the flowers. Photo by Liam Doran
Keegan Swenson on his way to a stage 1 win after winning the Leadville 100 a day ago. Photo by Liam Doran
Lachlan Morton leads the chasers out of Pennsylvania Gulch on day 1 in Breckenridge. Photo by Devon Balet

UP NEXT

Stage 2 takes riders across multiple drainages highlighted by the locally famous West Ridge descent on the Colorado Trail. Real-time results can be found at itsyourrace.com.

Results

Click Here for full results from all categories

2022

Slated for August 14-19, 2022, 400 riders. In the words of race director Mike McCormack, “Sometimes bigger is better. We feel that in Epic’s case, better is better. There’s a balance we need to strike. To us, that means enough riders to create that special big race feel, but not so many that we experience crowding on course. We want our riders to experience the soulfulness of Summit County’s trail system and backcountry–that’s hard to do if you’re riding nose-to-tail all day.”

McCormack added, “Additionally, while our trail system holds up very well, fewer riders means less impact. We love our trails…we just don’t want to love them to death.”

2022 spots will be limited. Registration information for 2022 can be found HERE.