Moriah Wilson (Specialized-The Meteor) won the open women's division of the Sea Otter Classic's Fuego 80K XC race on Saturday and took the early lead in the inaugural Life Time Grand Prix presented by Mazda series. The California native covered the two laps of the 80-kilometre mountain bike event in 3 hours, 24 minutes and 13 seconds.
Securing the runner-up spot in the Fuego 80K and in the Grand Prix series standings was pro mountain biker Sofia Gomez-Villafañe (Specialized Off-Road), eight 20 seconds back in second place. Alexis Skarda (Santa Cruz Bicycles), winner of the women's 2021 USA Cycling Pro Mountain Bike Cross-Country Tour, crossed the finish line another nine second later to take third place.
The riders who would make the podium led after the first of two 40km laps, moving in a counter-clockwise direction with 868 metres of elevation gain on each circuit of flowing singletrack. Wilson, Gomez-Villafañe and Skarda were joined in the lead pack with two-time US mountain bike Olympian Lea Davison. Trailing just two seconds back were a duo of mountain bike specialists, Hannah Finchamp and Evelyn Dong.
Wilson, who came in with four race wins already this season, had no issues on the second lap to create a gap and take the victory.
“I feel incredibly humbled to be here in the first place with 30 of the top racers in the country,” said the 25-year-old at the finish line. “I feel super new to all of this, so I don’t know what it’s been like historically, but I feel like this is elevating women’s cycling in the US.”
Wilson finished the 2021 gravel campaign with a victory at the inaugural Big Sugar Gravel in Arkansas, which will be the final event of the Life Time Grand Prix series this season. This year she already has four wins in California on the off-road scene at The Rock Cobbler, Shasta Gravel Hugger and two of three races in the Grasshopper Adventure Series.
The six-race, invitation-only series opened Saturday in Monterey, California and a total of 30 women and 30 men were confirmed to contend for a season-ending $250,000 prize purse, shared equally among the top 10 in each category. The competition requires riders to compete in five of the six events to be eligible for the final payouts. On Saturday, 24 of the 30 women took part in the mountain bike race, with absentees being Whitney Allison, Erin Huck, Rach McBride, Flavia Oliveira-Parks, Hannah Shell, and Ruth Winder.
Fuego 80K XC was the first of three mountain bike race, the other two coming late summer, Leadville Trail 100 MTB in Leadville, Colorado on August 13 and Chequamegon MTB (40 miles) in Cable, Wisconsin on September 17.
The next stop for the series is Unbound Gravel 200 in Emporia, Kansas on June 4.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|2||Sofia Gomez Villafane||0:00:20|
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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).
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