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Fuego 80K lights up Life Time Grand Prix on Saturday

Fuego 80K XC MTB will be opening round of Life Time Grand Prix Series in 2022
Fuego 80K XC MTB will be opening round of Life Time Grand Prix Series in 2022 (Image credit: Sea Otter Classic/ Robert DeBerry)

Saturday the flag drops on the first of six races that comprise the Life Time Grand Prix presented by Mazda, as the 60 athletes selected to compete for a season-ending $250,000 prize purse can earn the first ranking points on offer. The opening event is the Sea Otter Classic 80K Fuego cross-country mountain bike race in Monterey, California. 

FloSports was selected as the broadcast partner for the series and will stream two days of cross-country mountain bike racing from Sea Otter, including the 80K Fuego XC event which opens the inaugural series. On the FloBikes channel, all six of the Grand Prix events will be broadcast live, and offer on demand content, for subscribers worldwide.

The women’s field includes cyclo-cross racer Rebecca Fahringer (Kona Maxxis Shimano), mountain biker Kaysee Armstrong (Liv Factory Team), two-time time trial World Champion Amber Neben, and top Canadian cross-country racer Haley Hunter Smith (Maxxis Factory Racing). For men, the start line includes gravel specialists Peter Stetina, Colin Strickland, Laurens ten Dam, as well as US Marathon Mountain Bike national champion Russell Finsterwald and individual pursuit world champion Ashton Lambie.

“Stop number one on the Life Time Grand Prix, 50-mile mountain bike race, 80 kilometres, two laps of a big course. I like it because it’s kind of like old-school mountain biking with big loops, not short punchy stuff. It’s going to be endurance based,” Stetina said in an interview with FloBikes. “Fitness will be predominant over technical ability. It’s a true mountain bike race.”

The prize purse of $250,000 will be shared equally among the top 10 in each category for  women and men based points accumulated during the year, the winners receiving $25,000 each. It is an invitation-only competition which requires the 60 riders to compete in five of the six events to be eligible for the final payouts. All events in the series, three mountain bike and three gravel, are existing events which had pedigrees for extreme distances, high altitudes, and challenging terrain. 

Fuego 80K XC dishes up 1,737 metres (5,700 feet) of elevation gain over two counter-clockwise laps of a 40-kilometre (25 mile) course that offer sandy climbs and flowing singletrack. Course inspection and practice will take place on Friday morning, with the race start at 8:00 a.m. PDT on Saturday morning.

“We’re proud to be the broadcast home of Life Time’s inaugural Grand Prix series and we look forward to accelerating the growth of cycling in the United States,” said Ryan Fenton, Director of Global Rights and Acquisition at FloSports. “Our partnership with Life Time furthers our commitment to serve the cycling community with premium coverage of thrilling events by promoting the impressive participants set to compete.”

Founded in 2006, FloSports is a subscription video streaming service dedicated to live and on-demand access to more than two dozen sport categories in the US and abroad. For the sport of cycling, FloSports offers live programming for many WorldTour races, including Paris-Nice, Paris-Roubaix, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne, and Women’s WorldTour races La Course by Le Tour de France and Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta. The organisation announced recently a long-term partnership with the UCI to add the Flanders Classics and the Fayetteville Cyclocross Championships to its programming, as well as the Tour de France Femmes Avec Zwift exclusively in Canada.

Life Time Grand Prix Series 2022 schedule

  • April 9 - Fuego 80K XC MTB in Monterey, California
  • June 4 - Unbound Gravel 200 in Emporia, Kansas
  • July 9 - Crusher in the Tushar (70 miles) in Beaver, Utah
  • August 13 - Leadville Trail 100 MTB in Leadville, Colorado
  • September 17 -  Chequamegon MTB (40 miles)presented in Cable, Wisconsin
  • October 22 - Big Sugar Gravel (100 miles) in Bentonville, Arkansas

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Jackie has been involved in professional sports for more than 30 years in news reporting, sports marketing and public relations. She founded Peloton Sports in 1998, a sports marketing and public relations agency, which managed projects for Tour de Georgia, Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and USA Cycling. She also founded Bike Alpharetta Inc, a Georgia non-profit to promote safe cycling. She is proud to have worked in professional baseball for six years - from selling advertising to pulling the tarp. She has climbed l'Alpe d'Huez three times (not fast). Her favorite road rides are around horse farms in north Georgia (USA) and around lavender fields in Provence (France), and some mtb rides in Park City, Utah (USA).