Durango’s mountain biking legacy continued to grow the last seven days.
One year after Durango’s Todd Wells pulled off wins of the Leadville 100 MTB race and six-stage Breck Epic in the same week, Durango’s Howard Grotts accomplished the same feat.
Grotts, 24, had to beat Wells, 41, in both events. Grotts erased a 2 minute, 44 second time deficit to Wells during Friday’s sixth and final stage in Breckenridge to take the title in the event that starts the day after the Leadville 100.
“Six days of full gas racing through some spectacular Colorado scenery with some great people,” Grotts said in a post to Instagram.
“(Todd Wells) and I traded the leader’s jersey every single day, and I was just able to reclaim it on today’s final stage for the W. If we’d ended on a descent heavy day like Wheeler, I’m sure the result would have been otherwise. Still have plenty of work to do with my ‘on sight’ technical skills.”
Grotts won the Leadville 100 last Saturday in 6 hours, 15 minutes. His total time at the Breck Epic was unavailable at press time Friday.
The grueling turn-around between the Leadville 100 and Breck Epic claimed one Durango rider in Payson McElveen, who was third in Leadville but abandoned the Breck Epic during after the third stage because of various aches and pains.
“While I was able to ‘fake it’ decently enough for the first two days, my body is in complete rebellion now,” McElveen said in a post to Instagram.
“Having dealt with knee stuff before, I knew I had to cut the grinding up hills immediately.”
The Breck Epic features tough single-track cross-country mountain biking. It covers 240 miles and has 40,000 feet of elevation gain. Grotts is the nation’s top climber, but Wells remains impossible to beat on technical downhills. That made it a back-and-forth battle all week. Grotts wedged Wells by only 3:25 in Leadville.
“Gave absolutely everything these last 7 days,” Wells said in a post to Twitter. “Not enough for the ‘w’ but honored to be part of the story.”
Geoff Kabush of Canada was third at the Breck Epic. The women’s race was won by Boulder’s Erin Huck, who built a massive lead. Katerina Nash of the Czech Republic was second, and Utah’s Evelyn Dong placed third.
Grotts and McElveen will represent USA Cycling at the International Cycling Union’s mountain bike world championships the first week of September in Australia.
In other U.S. mountain biking news Friday, Washington’s Stephen Ettinger announced he will retire from elite racing at the end of the 2017 season.
The 28-year-old was a force in the sport with three national championships and eight selections to world championships teams.