The 10th edition of the Breck Epic mountain bike stage race wrapped up Friday with stage 6. The 30-mile finale took riders over Boreas Pass to the Gold Dust trail — then back over the 11,500-foot pass again to return to the finish in Breckenridge, Colorado.
Katrina Engelsted (Boulder Cycle Sport) won her first stage of the race in the pro women’s category ahead of Carla Williams (Joe’s Bike Shop), who won the overall. It was Williams’s first time at the Breck Epic, an event she has wanted to do for years.
“It was definitely on our bucket list to do this year; the riding’s just been incredible. I’ve had so much fun on the trails,” said Williams.
“I was definitely a little nervous about how the altitude would affect me. The first day was the shortest day with the rain, and my lungs were just burning, I could hardly breathe. The second day, it was hard to find the power I normally have in my legs, but after that, I started feeling a little bit better each day.”
The Virginian is making the most of her trip to Colorado, heading up to Leadville to race the Leadville Trail 100 MTB race Saturday. That played a factor in her pacing on stage 6.
“Today was the only day I took it sort of easy. I’m doing Leadville tomorrow, so I wanted to have a little bit in my legs for tomorrow, so since I did have a gap I settled into a comfortable pace,” Williams said. “Today I did have a bit more fun.”
Jeremiah Bishop (Canyon-Topeak) won stage 6 and wrapped up the overall title in the pro men’s division, happy to have bookended the race with stage wins on the first and final days.
“I just felt healthy, strong, and confident,” Bishop said. “This week was really good front to back — winning the first stage, winning the last stage.
“We had fun. Just goofing around and talking. It was really positive. I’m so stoked to ride with some of these young kids that are coming up through. Nash [Dory], we had a good battle on this last stage, and I was like, ‘Maybe I should give the stage win to him.’ He’s been working so hard and riding so well all week. But then I kind of remembered that you’ve gotta make him work for it! I told him where the last climb was and I figured that was enough of a hint, but I was able to hold him off.”
Bishop added that he felt his good late-season form was due to some unexpected rest resulting from an injury.
“I think getting injured at Cape Epic in March almost was like a blessing in disguise. Now I just feel really healthy. I’m able to recover well.”
Bishop also won the first edition of Breck Epic in 2009.
“It is nice to be back and win the 10th — I won the first and I won the 10th. A lot has changed since then … I raced with Travis Brown at this one.
“The race has grown up in ways but actually it’s still the same in a lot of ways. It’s still got its character, its class. It’s unapologetically mountain biking. It’s just awesome.”