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Wells and Bigham win Leadville 100

By:
Dejan Smaic / SportifImages

Specialized goes one-two in men's race

On a crisp, clear Saturday morning in Leadville, Colorado, approximately 2,000 racers converged on the small historic silver mining town, nearly doubling the population of approximately 2,594, to compete in the 21st edition of the Leadville 100 MTB race. The race, also known as the "Race Across the Sky", took riders from a starting elevation of approximately 10,152 ft above mean sea level to the Columbine ‘s elevation of 12,424 ft, where riders turned around and headed back to Leadville, completing the 103-mile course.

With a stacked starting men’s field, there was much talk about breaking Alban Lakata’s (Topeak) course record of 6:04:01 from 2013. However, untimely flats or mishaps may have changed the dynamics of the race, with Todd Wells (Specialized) taking a hard fought win over Christoph Sauser (Specialized) for a winning time of 6:16:26.

Early in the race, a select group of riders, which included Wells, Sauser, Lakata, and Kristian Hynek (Topeak), entered the Powerline after rounding Turquoise Lake. As the riders made their way through the Powerline, Sauser flatted, leaving him to chase down a several minute deficit.

Later, as the trio of Wells, Lakata, and Hynek continued to put distance of the field, Lakata flatted between Pipeline and Twin Lakes, leaving just Wells and Hynek for the climb up Columbine.

While going up Columbine, Hynek distanced himself from Wells, with the Topeak rider eventually putting up to four minutes on Wells by the time he hit the singletrack. However, Hynek's fortunes were to change when Wells put in a Herculean effort along the back side of Powerline and caught the Topeak rider.

Once on the road, Wells eventually distanced himself from Hynek as the Topeak rider failed to stay on his wheel.

Meanwhile, further back in the field, Sauser made an ultra-human effort and closed a nearly five-minute deficit to just 17 seconds by the time the Specialized rider came across the finish line for second, with a time of 6:16:47. Hynek followed, rounding out the podium for third in 6:22:47. Despite superior form coming into Leadville, misfortunes along the course ruined Lakata’s efforts, and he finished fourth at 6:29:51.

Returning winner Sally Bingham (Topeak) stole the show and rode away from her closest competitors early in the race. By the time Bingham made the stream crossing as she was leaving the Powerline, the women's field was in clear and ever present danger of never catching the reigning winner.

Bingham was riding solo through the men's field, and by the time the Topeak rider made her way to the final feed zone before the fearful climb up the Columbine, she had over three minutes on her closest competitor at that time, Allison Powers (Herbalife24), the reigning US National Road, Criterium, and Time Trial Champion. Powers was later forced to retire from the race after multiple flats and crashes.

Bingham won the women's race in a time of 7:23:58, outdistanced her rivals by over 42 minutes, with Jennifer Smith (No Tubes Elite Women's Team) finishing second in 8:06:27, and Nina Baum (NoTubes Elite Women's Team) rounding out the podium for third with a time of 8:14:08.

Brief Results

Elite men
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Todd Wells (Specialized) 6:16:26  
2 Christoph Sauser (Specialized) 0:00:18  
3 Kritian Hynek (Topeak Ergon) 0:06:21  
4 Alban Lakata (Topeak Ergon) 0:13:25  
5 Max Jenkins (Herbalife) 0:30:51  
Elite women
# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Sally Bigham (Topeak Ergon) 7:23:57  
2 Jennifer Smith (Stan's NoTubes) 0:42:29  
3 Nina Baum (Stan's NoTubes) 0:50:10  
4 Jari Kirkland 0:58:40  
5 Catherine Williamson 1:07:29