Even after crashing hard early in the 2010 Leadville 100 and having to replace his front wheel, Todd Wells was right in the thick of the action at the base of the infamous Columbine Climb. Hang on there, and he’d have had a chance to win the prestigious 100-mile mountain bike race.
But Wells got popped. “JHK and Levi (Leipheimer) just rode away from me,” recalled the reigning U.S. national cross-country champion. “That was my race.”
Wells spent the rest of the day riding solo, drifting across the finish a distant third behind 2010 winner Leipheimer and second-placed Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski.
Fast forward a year, and Wells has made numerous changes to his preparation, and comes in as one of the four-star favorites. He’s spent extended time training at altitude, shaved a few extra pounds of body weight, and has chosen a different — and lighter — bike.
“Last year I was new to the event and I figured a full-suspension bike made sense for a 100-mile mountain bike race,” said Wells, who rode a Specialized S-Works Epic 29er. “But now I know that this is essentially a road race without many rough sections, so the hardtail just makes more sense.”
This year Wells will pilot a Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper 29er, wanting to be as light as possible for the grueling race that includes 12,612 feet of climbing. Here’s a look at what just may be the race’s winning bike.