The race’s 400-odd riders passed the halfway mark of the six-day mountain bike stage race on the 41-mile Aqueduct route to Keystone and back from downtown Breckenridge, Colorado. Along the way, they faced numerous steep fire road climbs as well as a 10-mile long grind out of Keystone.
In the women’s race Carla Williams (Joe’s Bike Shop) won her second stage in a row and maintained her overall lead on Katrina Englested (Boulder Cycle Sport) with two days to go.
On the other hand, a fresh face stood on the top of the stage 4 podium in the pro men’s race, with Levi Kurlander (Orange Seal) winning his first stage of the week ahead of race leader Jeremiah Bishop (Canyon-Topeak).
Their race began with a frantic chase after the front few riders missed a corner on a fast downhill not more than five miles in.
“We had a 45-minute XC chase back,” said Bishop. “Sometimes the chaos makes it more interesting.”
Kurlander agreed that it was a major effort to bridge back to the front.
“It was the hardest I’d gone all week for the first 45 minutes of the race today,” said Kurlander. “It was full-on XC at 10,000 feet.
In the end, it came down to the youngster from Durango and the three-time former Breck Epic winner Bishop. Kurlander went all out on the final descent to win by three seconds.
“The last section he was going nuts down this downhill,” Bishop said. “He just started sprinting out of every corner.”
“I made the commitment — I was either going to crash or I was going to win,” said Kurlander.