EMPORIA, Kansas (VN) — Colin Strickland surprised the favorites to win Saturday’s Dirty Kanza 200 men’s race with a daring 95-mile solo breakaway.

Strickland, who rides for Meteor X Giordana gravel cycling team, attacked out of a group of 10 pre-race favorites just past the midpoint of the 200-mile gravel race. He then held a tenuous gap as the wind and long course gradually wore down the group of chasers.

Strickland stopped the clock in downtown Emporia in 9:58:49, which is a new record in the men’s race.

It’s the first time anyone has gone faster than 10 hours.

“I rolled the dice and was betting on discord and a lack of cohesion behind,” Strickland said. “I knew I had to get through 40 miles of headwind, and then I would have a ripping tailwind.”

“Catch me if you can in a tailwind—I love to go fast,” Strickland added.

Strickland held off Trek-Segafredo rider Peter Stetina, who crossed the line in 10:07:54.

Stetina chased behind with EF Education First duo Alex Howes and Lachlan Morton. When Howes suffered a flat tire, Morton stopped to wait, and Stetina continued ahead. The Trek-Segafredo rider said he held the gap around three minutes to Strickland, and then put in a sizable burst to catch Strickland, only to nearly implode with 18 miles to go.

“I ended up doing a mano-y-mano time trial for the last four hours — hats off to [Strickland],” Stetina said. “At 18 miles to go I hit the wall. Shout out to the girl who gave me a Twizzler with 10 miles to go because it brought me out of a dark place.”

Behind, Morton and Howes rolled across the line together in third and fourth place.

Many of the top favorites suffered various mechanical setbacks during the gravel race, which is known for punishing bodies and gear alike. Stetina said he suffered an early flat tire which forced him into the tech pits at mile 50 and saw him chase to get back on. A dead electronic shifting battery sent him back into the pits at the race’s midpoint, and occurred just as Strickland attacked.

“Everybody looked around when [Strickland] went because it was so far out,” Stetina said. “Everybody has some kind of issue today.”

Strickland said he suffered two punctures during the race, including a nail that sliced through his tire. Strickland said he used a tire puncture repair kit and sealant to save the tire.

The victory marks perhaps the biggest win of Strickland’s gravel career. He won Nebraska’s Gravel Worlds event in 2018 and 2017. In 2017 Strickland also won three rounds of the Red Hook Criterium fixed-gear race.

Rockwell wins women’s Dirty Kanza 200

Californian Amity Rockwell (Easton Overland) made a late charge to win the women’s race, overtaking 2017 champion Alison Tetrick (Specialized) inside the final 25 miles. Rockwell, 26, said she benefitted from the new-for-2019 Dirty Kanza 200 course, which featured more hills than the 2018 route.

“Last year I felt there was more variety in terrain,” Rockwell said. “It was more stimulating to look at. I think this year’s course suited me better because there was more climbing and I’m thankful for that.”

Rockwell and the other women spent much of the day chasing after Olivia Dillon, who got out to an early lead. Dillon, who retired from professional road racing in 2015 and won the Irish road championships in 2010, suffered a late flat tire which derailed her progress.

A former elite marathon runner, Rockwell participated in the 2018 Dirty Kanza, but was stalled after her shifting gave out just before the midpoint of the race. She finished 18th in the women’s division.

“Lasts year everything that could have gone wrong did, and I made myself finish because I knew I wanted to come back and hopefully experience it from a better place,” Rockwell said. “Today was really long. I don’t think for second I ever thought I had it in the bag, and I surprised myself.”

Dirty Kanza 200 Men’s top 10

  1. Colin Strickland, 9:58:49
  2. Peter Stetina, 10:07:54
  3. Alex Howes, 10:18:36
  4. Lachlan Morton, 10:18:36
  5. Payson McElveen, 10:35:29
  6. Kiel Reijnen, 10:38:40
  7. Joshua Berry, 10:38:40
  8. Ted King, 10:38:40
  9. Noah Granigan, 10:52:53
  10. Tristain Uhl, 11:02:27

Dirty Kanza 200 Women’s top 10

  1. Amity Rockwell, 11:59:53
  2. Alison Tetrick, 12:16:18
  3. Sarah Max, 12:29:24
  4. Kae Takeshita, 12:42:18
  5. Olivia Dillon, 12:57:25
  6. Amanda Nauman, 13:02:13
  7. Amy Charity, 13:08:22
  8. Judah Sencenbaugh, 13:19:02
  9. Sarah Swallow, 13:22:47
  10. Vicki Barclay, 13:32:21