Chilling Rain Storm Tests Hungry Field in Stage 1 of Breck Epic
The Breck Epic is a 6-day mountain bike race held in and around the backcountry surrounding Breckenridge, CO. Each stage begins and ends in town, allowing racers to stay in one place for the entire event.
Keegan Swenson made a dominant statement in Sunday’s rain-hammered Stage 1 of the Breck Epic. The 25-year-old national XC champion, who cracked the World Cup top 20 this summer, made his move on the grueling—and extra greasy—Little French climb. Early leader Geoff Kabush had fallen off the pace (then flatted, fading to 20th), and Swenson turned a 10-second gap over Colombian stage-race veteran Luis Mejia and U.S. marathon champion Russell Finsterwald into a 2-minute, 42-second advantage by the finish. “I realized I was slowly gapping those guys, so I just twisted the throttle a little more,” said Swenson, a first-time Epic competitor who is using the race to earn points toward a potential 2020 Olympic birth. He finished the 36-mile stage in 2:41:51, with Finsterwald three seconds ahead of Mejia.
On the women’s side, Katerina Nash also spoke loudly, beating the field by 2 minutes, 39 seconds to win in 3:23:40. She passed early leader and 2015 Epic champion Evelyn Dong near the second aid station and fought through the pelting raindrops to expand her lead. “I lost my hands, so I couldn’t shift or operate my dropper post,” she said with mud caked in her hair at the finish. “The weather really turned crazy.” Her CLIF Pro Team-mate Hannah Finchamp took second, while Dong suffered through the chilly precipitation to place fifth, losing 14 minutes and appearing hypothermic at the finish.
By Devon O’Neil