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Blunk and Lange take titles at Chequamegon MTB on fifth stop of Life Time Grand Prix

Chequamegon MTB Festival presented by Trek was held Saturday in Wisconsin, doubling as the penultimate leg of the Life Time Grand Prix off-road series.

A pair of 23-year-olds won individual titles, Savilia Blunk for women, the reigning US cross-country mountain bike champion, and Bradyn Lange for men, the youngest male rider in the Life Time series

The 40-mile point-to-point course began in downtown Hayward in northern Wisconsin and followed parts of the famed American Birkie Cross-country Ski Trail across forest roads and snowmobile trails with short, punchy climbs to the finish line in Cable. 

The Chequamegon MTB Festival held a total of three race distances, which combined for more than 2,800 participants ranging in age from 2 to 80 years old, representing 38 states and four countries.

Blunk, who is not part of the Life Time series, won the women’s 40-mile event in a time of 2:27:26 good, which was good for 37th overall in the pro/elite field. Rose Grant took second in the women’s division, three and a half minutes back. Kelsey Urban outsprinted Alexis Skarda for the final spot on the women’s podium, 24 seconds later.

Lange won the men’s pro/elite race from a pack of three riders in a time of 2:05:54, outkicking Riley Amos, who settled for second, and pushing Alexey Vermeulen, who is second in the Life Time men’s standings, to the final step on the podium. Series leader Keegan Swenson came close to continuing his streak of wins, but a crash in a slippery corner near the home stretch allowed the trailing trio to overtake him and set up the finishing sprint.

“Honestly, I didn’t expect to win a stop of the Life Time Grand Prix this year being the youngest in the series. I was taking it race by race just learning as much as I can from these guys so this was a pleasant surprise,” said Lange on his Instagram feed, now 14th in the series standings.

It was a who’s-who for the Grand Prix series contenders on the rain-soaked course in Wisconsin, with 13 women and 16 men among the field who rolled across the finish line in the top 20 for each category, including series leaders - Haley Smith taking fifth in the women’s race and Swenson placing fourth for the men. 

A total of 24 women and 26 men are still in the running for the season-ending Life Time Grand Prix payout purse of $250,000, shared equally among the top 10 in each category for men and women. The competition requires riders to compete in five of the six events, with points awarded based on finishing times. 

Grant earned top points with her second-placed finish in Wisconsin to move into fourth overall in the overall women’s standings, nine points behind series leader Smith, who has earned 113 total points. Sarah Sturm is second overall, four points off the pace, while Sofia Gomez Villafane is third, another single point back.

Having amassed four victories across the opening rounds of the series - Sea Otter Classic Fuego 80k XC, Unbound Gravel, Crusher in the Tushar and Leadville 100 MTB, Swenson holds a commanding lead of 120 points in the men’s division. Vermeulen is the closest contender with 109 points, and Cole Paton has 106. The top six is comprised of Peter Stetina, Russell Finsterwald and Payson McElveen, with two points separating each of the trio.

The series concludes October 22 at the 100-mile Big Sugar Gravel in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Brief results - Elite/Pro Women
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Savilia Blunk 2:27:46
2Rose Grant 0:03:18
3Kelsey Urban 0:03:42
4Alexis Skarda 0:03:45
5Haley Smith 0:05:07
6Sarah Sturm 0:06:21
7Jenna Rinehart 0:07:02
8Paige Onweller 0:07:35
9Julie Medema 0:08:17
10Ellen Campbell 0:08:31

Brief results - Elite/Pro Men
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Bradyn Lange 2:05:53
2Riley Amos 0:00:01
3Alexey Vermeulen 0:00:03
4Keegan Swenson 0:00:17
5Payson McElveen 0:01:21
6Alex Howes 0:01:23
7Peter Stetina 0:01:30
8Cole Paton 0:02:12
9Logan Owen 0:02:23
10Russell Finsterwald 0:02:58

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