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Sauser sprints to Whiskey 50 victory

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Marathon World Champion Christoph Sauser (Specialized) wins the Whiskey 50 in a close finish with teammate Todd Wells and Canadian Champion Derek Zandstra (Scott)

Marathon World Champion Christoph Sauser (Specialized) wins the Whiskey 50 in a close finish with teammate Todd Wells and Canadian Champion Derek Zandstra (Scott)
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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The top ladies battle at the Whiskey 50

The top ladies battle at the Whiskey 50
(Image credit: Brian Leddy)
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Women out on course at the Whiskey 50

Women out on course at the Whiskey 50
(Image credit: Brian Leddy)
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Fernando Riveros Paez leads Christoph Sauser

Fernando Riveros Paez leads Christoph Sauser
(Image credit: Brian Leddy)
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Christoph Sauser sprints toward victory in the Whiskey 50

Christoph Sauser sprints toward victory in the Whiskey 50
(Image credit: Brian Leddy)
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The elite men at the start of the Whiskey 50

The elite men at the start of the Whiskey 50
(Image credit: Brian Leddy)
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Fernando Riveros Paez (Rotor Scott) shortly after being dropped by Sauser

Fernando Riveros Paez (Rotor Scott) shortly after being dropped by Sauser
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Michael Broderick (Kenda NoTubes) riding singletrack in the forest

Michael Broderick (Kenda NoTubes) riding singletrack in the forest
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Riders head onto the first fire road climb

Riders head onto the first fire road climb
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Christoph Sauser (Specialized) marking his teammate Wells' wheel

Christoph Sauser (Specialized) marking his teammate Wells' wheel
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Todd Wells (Specialized) was second to make it onto the dirt portion of the course

Todd Wells (Specialized) was second to make it onto the dirt portion of the course
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Riders staging at 8:30 am

Riders staging at 8:30 am
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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The sheriff was keeping the peace at the start

The sheriff was keeping the peace at the start
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Wild West race starters

Wild West race starters
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Veteran Mary McConneloug (Kenda NoTubes)

Veteran Mary McConneloug (Kenda NoTubes)
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Carl Decker (Team Giant) was the sole Giant rider today

Carl Decker (Team Giant) was the sole Giant rider today
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Yuki Ikeda (Topeak Ergon) prepares his bike while his wife snaps photos

Yuki Ikeda (Topeak Ergon) prepares his bike while his wife snaps photos
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Evelyn Dong (Backcountry.com) finishing in third place

Evelyn Dong (Backcountry.com) finishing in third place
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Chloe Woodruff (Backcountry.com) looks back to see where Erin Huck is

Chloe Woodruff (Backcountry.com) looks back to see where Erin Huck is
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Spencer Paxson (Kona) sprints to a ninth place finish

Spencer Paxson (Kona) sprints to a ninth place finish
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Whiskey Row in Precott is home to many unique characters

Whiskey Row in Precott is home to many unique characters
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) with an early lead

Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) with an early lead
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Chloe Woodruff (Backcountry.com) riding in second position early in the race

Chloe Woodruff (Backcountry.com) riding in second position early in the race
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Evelyn Dong (Backcountry.com) following the leaders up some switchbacks

Evelyn Dong (Backcountry.com) following the leaders up some switchbacks
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Christoph Sauser (Specialized) on his way to winning the Whiskey 50

Christoph Sauser (Specialized) on his way to winning the Whiskey 50
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Fernando Riveros Paez (Rotor Scott) leading Sauser up the twelve-mile climb

Fernando Riveros Paez (Rotor Scott) leading Sauser up the twelve-mile climb
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Nina Baum (NoTubes) grabbing a drink on the descent into Copper Basin

Nina Baum (NoTubes) grabbing a drink on the descent into Copper Basin
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Mary McConneloug (Kenda Seven) descending

Mary McConneloug (Kenda Seven) descending
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Geoff Kabush (Scott 3Rox Racing) was having an off day

Geoff Kabush (Scott 3Rox Racing) was having an off day
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Barry Wicks (Kona) putting in a top ten ride

Barry Wicks (Kona) putting in a top ten ride
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Sepp Kuss (BMC) near the top of the first big climb

Sepp Kuss (BMC) near the top of the first big climb
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Alex Grant (Sho Air Cannondale) cresting the first big climb

Alex Grant (Sho Air Cannondale) cresting the first big climb
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Todd Wells (Specialized) beginning the long descent with Paez close behind

Todd Wells (Specialized) beginning the long descent with Paez close behind
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Sarah Kaufmann (NoTubes) riding perfectly buff singletrack

Sarah Kaufmann (NoTubes) riding perfectly buff singletrack
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Deidre York (Red Ace Organics) riding to a 20th place finish today

Deidre York (Red Ace Organics) riding to a 20th place finish today
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Nina Baum (NoTubes) having fun as usual

Nina Baum (NoTubes) having fun as usual
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Crystal Anthony (Riverside Cycles) was having a brilliant race

Crystal Anthony (Riverside Cycles) was having a brilliant race
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Erin Huck (Tokyo) attempting to reel in the leaders

Erin Huck (Tokyo) attempting to reel in the leaders
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Wells, Zandstra, and Grotts make their way up to the Overlook

Wells, Zandstra, and Grotts make their way up to the Overlook
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Chasers Todd Wells (Specialized), Derek Zandstra, and Howard Grotts

Chasers Todd Wells (Specialized), Derek Zandstra, and Howard Grotts
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Amanda Carey (Liv Giant) seemed to be having a blast

Amanda Carey (Liv Giant) seemed to be having a blast
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Some of the singletrack today was pretty sweet

Some of the singletrack today was pretty sweet
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Fernando Riveros Paez (Rotor Scott) trying to stay with the Specialized juggernaut

Fernando Riveros Paez (Rotor Scott) trying to stay with the Specialized juggernaut
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Howard Grotts giving Specialized three riders in the top four early in the race

Howard Grotts giving Specialized three riders in the top four early in the race
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Marathon World Champion Christoph Sauser (Specialized) riding in third position early in the race

Marathon World Champion Christoph Sauser (Specialized) riding in third position early in the race
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Derek Zandstra (Scott 3Rox Racing) chasing Todd Wells

Derek Zandstra (Scott 3Rox Racing) chasing Todd Wells
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Todd Wells (Specialized) leading on switchback singletrack

Todd Wells (Specialized) leading on switchback singletrack
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Second group at the end of the initial road climb

Second group at the end of the initial road climb
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Christoph Sauser (Specialized) was never far from the front on the road section

Christoph Sauser (Specialized) was never far from the front on the road section
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Carl Decker (Team Giant) pacing the peloton up the road climb

Carl Decker (Team Giant) pacing the peloton up the road climb
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Riders on the six-mile road climb out of Prescott

Riders on the six-mile road climb out of Prescott
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Alex Grant (Sho-Air Cannondale) is racing without teammates today

Alex Grant (Sho-Air Cannondale) is racing without teammates today
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Todd Wells (Specialized) is one of the pre-race favorites

Todd Wells (Specialized) is one of the pre-race favorites
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Sarah Kaufmann (No Tubes) on her way up to the top of the mountain

Sarah Kaufmann (No Tubes) on her way up to the top of the mountain
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Jamey Driscoll (Raleigh Clement) making a rare mountain biking appearance

Jamey Driscoll (Raleigh Clement) making a rare mountain biking appearance
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Fernando Riveros Paez (Rotor Scott) attempts to get away from Christoph Sauser

Fernando Riveros Paez (Rotor Scott) attempts to get away from Christoph Sauser
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Fernando Riveros Paez (Rotor Scott) leading Christoph Sauser two miles from the top of the long climb

Fernando Riveros Paez (Rotor Scott) leading Christoph Sauser two miles from the top of the long climb
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Christoph Sauser and Fernando Riveros Paez flying up the climb out of Skull Valley

Christoph Sauser and Fernando Riveros Paez flying up the climb out of Skull Valley
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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The view into Copper Basin and Skull Valley

The view into Copper Basin and Skull Valley
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Michael Broderick (Kenda NoTubes) at the top of the big climb

Michael Broderick (Kenda NoTubes) at the top of the big climb
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Mary McConneloug (Kenda NoTubes) and Danelle Kabush descending together

Mary McConneloug (Kenda NoTubes) and Danelle Kabush descending together
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Crystal Anthony (Riverside Cycle) riding to a sixth place finish

Crystal Anthony (Riverside Cycle) riding to a sixth place finish
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Erin Alders (Liv Giant) sitting up after the long climb up the mountain

Erin Alders (Liv Giant) sitting up after the long climb up the mountain
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Riders making their way to the top of the highest ridge

Riders making their way to the top of the highest ridge
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Riders climbing switchbacks in the forest

Riders climbing switchbacks in the forest
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) descending into Copper Basin

Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) descending into Copper Basin
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Evelyn Dong (Backcountry.com) riding in third position on the 12-mile descent

Evelyn Dong (Backcountry.com) riding in third position on the 12-mile descent
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Chloe Woodruff (Backcountry.com) leading down the descent into Copper Basin

Chloe Woodruff (Backcountry.com) leading down the descent into Copper Basin
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Erin Huck (Tokyo) chasing the Woodruff/Nash/Dong group

Erin Huck (Tokyo) chasing the Woodruff/Nash/Dong group
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Chloe Woodruff (Backcountry.com) leads Katerina Nash and Evelyn Dong early in the long descent into Copper Basin

Chloe Woodruff (Backcountry.com) leads Katerina Nash and Evelyn Dong early in the long descent into Copper Basin
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Christoph Sauser (Specialized) attacks Fernando Paez (Scott) near the top of the final climb

Christoph Sauser (Specialized) attacks Fernando Paez (Scott) near the top of the final climb
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)
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Chloe Woodruff (Backcountry.com) wins the Whiskey 50 in a close finish with Erin Huck

Chloe Woodruff (Backcountry.com) wins the Whiskey 50 in a close finish with Erin Huck
(Image credit: Dave McElwaine)

Marathon world champion Christoph Sauser (Specialized) was pushed to his limit at the Whiskey 50, but again showed why he is the best in the world at this distance. He credited the fitness gained at the Cape Epic, along with his knowledge about hydration, flat tire avoidance, and having a superior downhill/singletrack bike in winning the $6,500 first place prize.

It was a great day for Specialized, placing three riders among the top five finishers. Todd Wells (Specialized), who had earlier been dropped by Sauser, finished second in the final sprint to the finish. Canadian champion Derek Zandstra (Scott 3Rox Racing), who did much of the work in hunting down Sauser, claimed third place. Fernando Riveros Paez (Scott-Rotor USA), the only rider who could match Sauser on the climb out of Skull Valley, finished fourth after fading on the downhill singletrack. Howard Grottts (Specialized) again proved he is a climbing machine by nailing down fifth place.

The 50-mile course begins with a six-mile pavement climb out of Prescott. While the pace seemed moderate, the peloton was split by the time they got to the dirt section of the course. Todd Wells led in the early going with Paez glued to his wheel. Sauser, Grotts, Zandstra, Grotts, Carl Decker (Team Giant), and Alex Grant (Sho-Air Cannondale) were never far behind. Wells was first to crest the mountain pass that begins a descent in to Copper Basin and Skull Valley, but Paez, Sauser, and Zandstra were with him. Grotts had been gapped by up to a minute, while Grant and Decker had lost even more on the climb.

When the riders reach the bottom of Skull Valley, they make a U-turn and then must climb 12 miles back up the mountain. Sauser decided to make a decisive move on the climb. He said, "I attacked on the middle of the long climb and Fernando and I got away. Then we got a pretty good gap."

Sauser then attacked Paez one mile from the top. "I knew at the top that I would have to go in front of him on the singletrack (descent) because he wouldn't be that fast technically," said Sauser

Behind the leaders, Grotts made up his lost time on the long climb and joined the chasers. Surprisingly, both Wells and Grotts (Sauser's teammates) could be seen at times on the front of the chase group as they closed the gap to Sauser. Derek Zandstra later credited Grotts in helping to chase down Paez, who had been dropped by Sauser.

Just before the long singletrack descent off the mountain, Sauser had a bit of a shock. He said, "I was just keeping myself really safe, no mistakes, no flat tires - then before the left corner to the downhill I looked back and Todd and Zandstra came. I thought they were far back so I got a big fright and pedaled really hard."

The final run into the finish is on pavement. Sauser was able to hold off a charging Zandstra for the win. Geoff Kabush, last year's winner, was never really in contention as he was recovering from a recent illness. His teammate Zandstra took up much of the slack, first by winning Friday night's fat boy criterium and then by nearly pulling off an upset in the Whiskey 50 itself.

Elite women

The women started 10 minutes behind the men's field, which meant that the leaders would catch and pass many of the slower men and have to deal with getting around them on the singletrack sections of the course. All eyes were on Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team), who finished second last year, over seven minutes ahead of anyone else in this year's field. She led onto the initial singletrack and seemed strong as she towed along Chloe Woodruff (Backcountry.com), Evelyn Dong (Backcountry.com, and Erin Huck (Tokyo Joe's).

However, this was clearly Woodruff's day to shine. She led over the first big climb and onto the descent to Skull Valley. Huck lost contact with the leaders as they came through the gap, but made up her losses on the descent into Copper Basin as the leaders sat up a bit. Dong made her move on the 12-mile climb, which clearly put Nash in distress. Woodruff and Huck kept Dong close, however.

Woodruff, who now lives in Prescott, has ridden these trails dozens of times and knows them like the back of her hand. She said, "We had a great group. Erin, Evelyn and I were together at the top of the climb. I've ridden that downhill so many times I just tried to think and said, hey, it's just another time down the mountain."

"So, I got away on the descent but Erin caught me on Cramp Hill, where I was on the verge of cramping. I was able to get around her but she caught me again on the flat coming back in. I think she went a little too soon."

Woodruff, who was riding for the new Backcountry.com team and in support of The Arizona Nature Conservancy, was emotional as she explained her victory to the media. "It's a wonderful community here. We came up here the first time because of the Whiskey and each year we stayed a little longer. We moved up here about a year ago - and there's no better place to ride a bike."

At the end of the day, Huck could be proud of her strong second place effort. Evelyn Dong finished third followed by Nash in fourth place, while Rose Grant (Sportsman & Ski Haus) took fifth place.

Full Results

Elite men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Christoph Sauser (Specialized)2:58:35
2Todd Wells (Specialized)0:00:02
3Derek Zandstra (Scott)
4Fernando Riveros Paez (Scott-Rotor USA)0:01:13
5Howard Grotts (Specialized)0:02:26
6Carl Decker (Giant Bicycles)0:04:55
7Markus Bauer (Shimano)0:06:07
8Alex Grant (Team Sho-Air/Cannondale)0:07:33
9Spencer Paxson (Kona Bicycles)0:08:41
10Barry Wicks (Kona)
11Chris Baddick (Red Ace Organics)
12Rotem Ishay (Jamis Bikes)
13Thomas Turner (Jamis)0:08:42
14Jonathan Mccarty (Scott Bikes. Durata Training.)0:08:43
15Brian Matter (Trek)0:08:59
16Tom Sampson (Adigga Racing)0:09:07
17Menso De Jong0:10:02
18Jamey Driscoll (Raleigh / Clement)0:10:28
19Cole Oberman (RareDiseaseCycling.org)0:11:13
20Cameron Chambers (podium cycles)0:11:19
21Tj Woodruff (Backcountry.com)0:11:45
22Benjamin Sonntag (Stan's NoTubes)0:12:00
23Bryan Dillon (Griggs Orthopedics)0:12:24
24Bryan Alders (Marin Bikes)0:12:49
25Kris Sneddon (Kona)0:13:26
26Ernie Watenpaugh (Jack Daniel's)0:14:53
27Samuel Morrison (Red Ace Organics)0:14:56
28Jason Siegle (Sdg)0:15:00
29Bryson Perry (DNA Cycling)0:15:02
30Sepp Kuss (BMC)0:15:59
31Peter Kalmes (HoneyStinger)0:17:09
32Troy Wells (Clif Bar)
33Anthony Smith (Team Santa Cruz X-Fusion)0:17:15
34Jason Sager (Backcountry.com)0:17:41
35Geoff Kabush (Scott)
36Tristan Uhl (787 racing)0:17:42
37Kyle Taylor (Ergon)0:19:29
38Keith Omundson (Evol)0:20:15
39Josh Tostado (santa cruz)0:20:35
40Chris Jackson (Castex Rentals)0:21:22
41Ben Bostrom (Specialized)0:21:50
42Kalan Beisel (Giant-Tuff Shed)0:21:53
43Yuki Ikeda (Topeak)0:22:49
44Dana Weber (Stage 21)0:24:00
45Christhian Ravelo (Colorado Bike Service)0:25:24
46Jakub Valigura (92 Fifty\ Cyclery)0:25:25
47Nate Wilson0:25:35
48Steven Beeler (Area 51)0:25:56
49Greg Lewis0:27:04
50Joseph Clemenzi (Sports Garage Cycling)0:27:15
51Tyler Gauthier (Bike Marquette)0:28:27
52Richie Trent (92Fifty\ Cyclery)0:30:04
53Ryan Standish (Lapierre Bikes)0:30:05
54Gabriel Ion0:30:11
55Quinn Keogh (Harmony Systems)0:30:15
56Ryan Petry (Tribe Multisport)0:30:19
57Jeff Kerkove (Ergon)0:31:24
58Nick Gould0:32:26
59Kacey Campbell (marlboro)0:34:44
60Jason Hilimire (FasCat Coaching)0:35:11
61Matt Connors (DNC Cycling)0:35:13
62Levi Kurlander (Trek Bicycles / Ska Brewing Company)0:36:12
63Matthew Turner0:37:28
64Jonathan Davis (92Fifty)0:38:10
65Stephan Davoust (San Juan Cycles)0:38:21
66Adam Looney (Borealis Fat Bikes)0:39:37
67John Salskov (SLM Coaching)0:40:54
68Noah Singer0:41:18
69Matthew Fox (mom)0:42:08
70Ryan Cook (Parkside cycle)0:42:50
71Rocky Gingg (Momentum Endurance)0:44:41
72Jon Pettit (Sram)0:47:44
73Chris Mackay0:48:15
74Colby Pastore (Santa Cruz Bicycles)0:49:17
75Michael Dickinson (SpecialEd)0:56:37
76Eliel Anttila (Marin Bikes)1:07:37
77Sam Gross (Harmony Systems)1:09:18
78Zach Spinhirne-martin1:11:53
79Cody Johler (My day job. Wyoming.)1:17:59
80Donny Warbritton (Boulder Running Company)1:29:10
81Rick Ianniello (POC and Yeti)1:31:26

Elite women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Chloe Woodruff (Backcountry.com)3:37:14
2Erin Huck (Tokyo Joes)0:00:01
3Evelyn Dong (Backcountry.com)0:00:29
4Katerina Nash0:02:44
5Rose Grant (Sportsman & Ski Haus)0:07:46
6Crystal Anthony (Riverside Cycle)0:07:52
7Amy Beisel (Liv/Giant)0:10:49
8Mary Mcconneloug (Kenda Stan's NoTubes)0:11:18
9Danelle Kabush (Luna)0:11:22
10Heidi Rentz (Ibis Cycles)0:11:50
11Erin Alders (Liv/Giant)0:16:38
12Erica Tingey (Jamis Bicycles)0:18:59
13Jamie Busch (Juliana Bicycles/Fox Racing/Giro)0:19:12
14Amanda Sin (Scott)0:19:46
15Rebecca Dussault (MassStart.org)0:20:50
16Karen Jarchow (Ptarmigan Group LLC)0:21:09
17Marlee Dixon (Epic Brewing)0:22:20
18Amanda Carey (Liv/Giant)0:25:55
19Lyndsay Mckeever0:27:04
20Deidre York (Red Ace Organics)0:27:47
21Sarah Kaufmann (Stan's NoTubes)0:27:54
22Kata Skaggs (Adventure Bicycle Company)0:29:01
23Jennifer Smith (Stan's NoTubes)0:29:02
24April Morgan (Foundry Cycles / Bicycle Fit Guru)0:31:55
25Nina Baum (Stan's NoTubes)0:33:08
26Beth Utley (Oro Valley Bicycle)0:40:30
27Shannon Gibson0:41:32
28Melissa Ross (My Husband Aaron Ross)0:41:59
29Liz Carrington (Hassle Free Sports (Durango))0:43:41
30Elizabeth Sampey (Heights Performance/Griggs Orthopedics)0:47:29
31Caroline Mani (Raleigh / Clement)0:50:29
32Meghan Korol (The Hub/Pisgah Tavern)0:50:57
33Spring Clegg (Us military cycling)1:00:05
34Stephanie Jones (Liv/Giant)1:20:56

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