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Blunk wins muddy Chequamegon race

Amos finishes second by one second
Savilia Blunk, pictured racing in this year’s Iron Horse Bicycle Classic roost master women’s race, won the Chequamegon 40 women’s pro race on Saturday in Wisconsin. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Savilia Blunk won the Chequamegon 40 pro women’s mountain bike race Saturday in Wisconsin.

A downpour about an hour before the start made for a muddy point-to-point race from Hayward to Cable for the event’s roughly 2,800 riders.

When the mud slowed down some her competitors, however, Blunk blasted off.

“I found myself solo off the front at mile 18 after a muddy traversing section made our group of about 10 explode,” Blunk posted. “It wasn’t exactly the plan to be solo with still 1.5 hours to go, but I found myself with a great opportunity to trust myself and commit! Glad I leaned in and I’m so stoked to win this historic race.”

Blunk ended up winning the race in 2 hours, 27 minutes and 46 seconds, beating the runner-up, Rose Grant, by 3:18. Kelsey Urban reached the podium in third (2:31:28), followed by Alexis Skarda (2:31:31) and Haley Smith (2:32:53).

Several other cyclists from Durango also finished near the top. Sarah Sturm finished sixth in 2:34:07, Ellen Campbell crossed 10th in 2:36:17, and Sofia Gomez Villafane finished 11th in 2:38:10.

The race traverses the Birkie ski trail, forest roads and snowmobile routes.

The pro men’s race wasn’t decided until the very end, but Bradyn Lange managed to finish one second ahead of Riley Amos to take first in 2:05:53.

“A+ weekend doing bikes up in north Wisconsin,” Amos posted. “The race itself was full of wild conditions and truly wasn’t over until the finish line, where I was pumped to get (second) to (Bradyn Lange) who rode a perfect race for a well deserved win.”

Alexey Vermeulen finished third in 2:05:56, Keegan Swenson placed fourth in 2:06:10 while Payson McElveen grabbed the final podium spot with a fifth-place finish in 2:07:14.

Durango riders Cole Paton (eighth, 2:08:05) and Howard Grotts (14th, 2:11:16) also had strong performances.

The Chequamegon 40 was the fifth out of six races on the inaugural Life Time Grand Prix, including the Leadville Trail 100 MTB. The tour will conclude Oct. 22 with the Big Sugar Gravel, a 100-mile gravel race in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Smith leads the women’s tour with 113 points while Sturm is second with 109, Villafane is third with 108, and Campbell is 14th with 75.

Swenson leads the men’s tour with 120 points, the maximum a rider can get. Vermeulen is second with 109, Paton is third with 106, McElveen is sixth with 99, and Grotts is 12th with 81.

The competitors’ best four results from the six races will be counted. Participants must start five of the six events to be eligible for an overall prize in the Grand Prix, and the Big Sugar Gravel is mandatory and will serve as a tiebreaker if needed.