The Breck Epic mountain bike stage race will kick off for a longer edition in its second year on Sunday, August 22 and will run until Friday, August 27. The race takes place in and around Breckenridge, Colorado.
Last year's winner Jeremiah Bishop will be on hand to defend his title. He'll face tough competition from Breck 100 winner Josh Tostado, 100-mile racer Evan Plews, Dejay Birtch, Colin Cares, Blake Harlan, Colby Pearce, Matt Shriver and Ross Schnell. Defending women's champion Jen Gersbach is not on the pre-registered list, but some folks to watch for sure are Leadville 100 runner-up Amanda Carey, Colorado Trail Race winner Eszter Horanyi, last year's third place Jen Hanks, German star Ivonne Kraft, Pua Sawicki and Sonya Looney in the women's race.
"Josh Tostado knows every single rock on this course like the back of his hand. He'll be tough to beat," said Bishop, who is bringing some Cannondale Factory Racing teammates along to help him including Alex Grant, Ben Sontag and Garth Prosser.
"Last year we put together a little over 200 miles of superb backcountry riding over five days plus a prologue," said Race Director Mike McCormack. "Best guess is that about five percent of that was road. The rest? Primo high-alpine singletrack, overgrown mining roads, game trails and ancient foot paths - the four staples of a Summit County mountain biker's diet."
"This year's course is a little more ambitious. Total mileage gets upped to around 245 of so over six days, and we've got a new stage that quietly morphed into 'Queen Stage' status while we weren't really paying attention."
The Pennsylvania Gulch (stage one) got longer and harder. "The climb to Little French Flume? Get earmuffs on your kiddos if you hike up there to spectate because you're sure to hear some profanity. And some wheezing," said McCormack.
The Colorado Trail (Stage Two) also got a bit longer with the addition of a section called "Vomit Hill". In contrast, last year's hardest stage, Wheeler, is getting a little easier this year after McCormack lopped off some of the climbing at the ski resort in the beginning of the stage and removed an un-flowy rocky and rooty section from the beginning of the Peaks Trail.
Finally, stage four, the Aqueduct Stage is also getting tougher. Racers will head over to Keystone and ride some of Summit County's best trails en route: the Dredge to Tiger Run segment of the Colorado Trail, the Aqueduct Trail from Homestead to Keystone, the North and Middle Forks of the Colorado Trail and even a descent to the dredge that's long, long and longer still. There are four significant climbs: Heinous Hill, Vomit Hill (the hard way), West Ridge and Rock Island Gulch.
Racers can expect temperatures in the 40s (degrees Fahrenheit) at the start and 70s later each day. Most stages will be conducted around 10,000 feet of altitude, so humidity will not be a factor, but high altitude may limit some competitors.
2010 Breck Epic
Sunday, August 22: Stage 1 - Pennsylvania Creek
Monday, August 23: Stage 2: The Colorado Trail
Tuesday, August 24: Stage 3: The Guyot Loop
Wednesday, August 25: Stage 4: The Keystone Loop
Thursday, August 26: Stage 5: The Wheeler Loop
Friday, August 27: Stage 6: The Gold Dust Loop
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for full coverage of the Breck Epic, including a daily blog from road, track and mountain bike racer Colby Pearce.