Three qualifying events for the 2011 Leadville 100 mountain bike race in Leadville, Colorado, were announced today. Racers who perform well enough at the qualifiers in New York, California and Crested Butte will earn themselves a spot on the start line of the 100-mile race with the likes of Dave Wiens, Rebecca Rusch, Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer - all who have raced the Colorado event.
The Leadville Qualifying Series (LQS) is comprised of the Wilmington/Whiteface 100K on June 19 in Wilmington, New York; the Lake Tahoe Trail 100K on July 10 in Lake Tahoe, California; and the Crested Butte Alpine Odyssey on July 31 in Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.
Each race will provide 100 qualifying spots which will be allocated partially on the basis of age-group performance and partly by lottery among finishers. Registration for the qualifiers will open on Thursday, March 31.
"We are delighted to be able to have three great races in three of the best mountain biking locations in the country," said Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports. "In addition to the opportunity to qualify for the Leadville Trail 100, these races will be superb opportunities to celebrate the sport of mountain biking."
"These qualifiers have been carefully selected as each contain many of the characteristics of the Leadville course, including overall challenge and climbing," said Kenneth Cooper, vice president of Endurance and Athletic Events for Life Time.
All qualifiers will be approximately 100 kilometres and have been vetted by LQS Technical Director Dave Wiens, a six-time LT 100 champion and member of the Mountain Biking Hall of Fame. The events are fully supported with aid stations and mechanical support, and are chip-timed.
The qualifying system was announced in late January of this year as a new way of entry into the popular Leadville 100 race. Previously, prospective entrants had to enter the lottery to get into the race. While a lottery approach will still be used for many of the slots, the new qualifying system provides another avenue to gain entry into the 100-miler.
The Adirondack Mountains will provide the backdrop for the first qualifier race, the Wilmington/Whiteface 100K, and will feature the terrain of Whiteface Mountain, home of the alpine events during the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics.
"The Town of Wilmington is very excited to be hosting the Wilmington/Whiteface 100K Mountain Bike Race," said Randy Preston, Town of Wilmington Supervisor of the first qualifier. "As a national caliber event, it will bring the best of the best from the competitive mountain bike set to the Northeast. We are anxious to show the world what mountain biking in the Adirondacks is all about."
The second LQS race, the Lake Tahoe Trail 100K, will traverse the Sierra Nevada Mountains, past vistas overlooking Lake Tahoe, one of the biggest and cleanest alpine lakes in the world. The race will be hosted by the Northstar-at-Tahoe - Resort, one of the west's pre-eminent mountain biking venues.
"We are excited to partner with AEG in the inaugural year of the Qualifying Series for the legendary Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race," said Andy Buckley, Director of Resort Services at Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort. "North Lake Tahoe, with its endless mountain bike trails and vistas of Lake Tahoe, is the ideal venue for a competitive mountain bike race that will ultimately grant 100 finishers the opportunity to participate in the Leadville Trail 100."
The final race in the LQS, Crested Butte Alpine Odyssey, the "last hard ride before Leadville," will be a challenging route though some of the most beautiful terrain in Colorado at the height of wildflower season. Crested Butte Mountain Resort will showcase its legendary trail system and extensive network of winding singletrack.
"This is an incredible match to have Mt. Crested Butte host the final qualifier for the Leadville 100, one of the iconic events in mountain biking," said Ken Stone, chief operating officer, Crested Butte Mountain Resort. "The mountain course starting at 9,400 feet above sea level will provide a test of fitness and skill of riders that equals the demands of the Leadville 100. Our entire community will be on hand to support this event and welcome the participants and fans."