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VN news ticker: Keegan Swenson and Alexis Skarda lead Breck Epic after four stages

Here's the news making the headlines on Thursday, August 19.

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Keegan Swenson, Alexis Skarda continue dominance at Breck Epic after four stages

A late-race detour on stage 3 couldn’t keep Keegan Swenson from dominating the Breck Epic stage race this week. Swenson, the recently crowned champion of the Leadville Trail 100 MTB, rode off course just before the finish of Tuesday’s third stage, and the detour added an extra two or so miles to his day. Yet Swenson was able to rejoin the course and hold on to the stage win, crossing the line 53 seconds ahead of Luis Mejia of Colombia.

Swenson padded his GC lead in the race ahead of Mejia, with Lachlan Morton in third place.

The next day Swenson stayed on course to take his fourth win and to advance his lead in the mountain bike stage race.

“I’m not doing any more work than I have to,” Swenson said. “I didn’t attack [Mejia], he just fell off after Aid 3. So I was like, I’ll turn the screws just a hair and snap the elastic.”

In the women’s race Alexis Skarda has also won four consecutive stages. Skarda has battled with Evelyn Dong throughout the stage race, but each day has come out on top.

Skarda, however, said she had to dismount her bicycle on Tuesday’s third stage after suffering an erratic heartbeat during the stage. According to a release from the race, Skarda said she has dealt with a congenital heart defect called superventricular tachycardia, that at times makes her heartbeat spike during aerobic activity.

Shortly after starting stage 2 Skarda had to step off of her bicycle and rest after she felt her heart rate spike.

“It feels like a butterfly in your heart and lactic acid in your legs,” she said.

SD Worx signs Marlen Reusser through 2023

SD Worx has snapped up Olympic time trial silver medalist Marlen Reusser after signing a deal with the Swiss rider through 2023. The 29-year-old was the only rider to get within a minute of Annemiek van Vleuten in the Tokyo chrono.

Reusser was part of the World Cycling Center team in 2019 and stepped into the pro ranks with Équipe Paule Ka in 2020. She moved to Alé BTC Ljubljana for this season following the demise of her previous squad.

She has won her national time trial and road race titles multiple times and took the European time trial title in 2019. In 2020, she finished second to Anna van der Breggen — who will be her sport director in 2022 — in the time trial at the world championships and she recently finished fourth overall at the Ladies Tour of Norway.

“I can still learn a lot and make a lot of progress in the road competitions,” Reusser said. “Over the last two years, I have shown that I have the ability to fight against other top cyclists. The time trial is the easiest way to demonstrate your talent because you have to perform in a straightforward way. A road competition is more complex, involving positioning, tactics, and teamwork. Team SD Worx has proven itself to be the best team in recent years.

“The conversation with Anna [van der Breggen] felt very good. It gives me confidence that she will be working for Team SD Worx as one of the team leaders from next year, just like Chantal Blaak. They have seen from the peloton what I can do and what my limitations are.”