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Durango’s Christopher Blevins blasts into first at Bonelli Pro XCT

Grotts’ broken chain sends him to 12th; McElveen second in Moab
Durango’s Christopher Blevins (1) looks back to see fellow Durango native and Specialized Racing teammate Howard Grotts (8) during the first lap at the Bonelli HC race last weekend in California. After Grotts snapped a chain on the second lap and fell to 50th, Blevins had to hold off Switzerland’s Nicola Rohrbach (76) to secure his second consecutive UCI points race in California.

There was no slowing down Christopher Blevins during a second consecutive weekend of mountain bike racing in California.

The 20-year-old from Durango, who calls California home while he attends college at Cal Poly, backed up his sweep of the professional cross-country and short-track races in Fontana, California, with another sweep of the races at Bonelli Park. Up for grabs once again was International Cycling Union (UCI) points.

The Specialized Racing team star won the pro cross-country race Saturday in 1 hour, 26 minutes, 24.309 seconds. He edged Switzerland’s Nicola Rohrbach, 32, who finished in 1:26:32.854. Canada’s Andrew L’Esperance, 27, was third in 1:27:11.056.

Durango’s Howard Grotts, 25, was in the lead group along with Blevins before a snapped chain on the second of seven laps ruined his day. Even after running his bike to get a repair, Grotts, also of Specialized Racing, was able to fight back up from 50th to 12th with a finishing time of 1:30:08.163.

“After (Grotts) snapped his chain early on, I found myself in a two-person battle with (Rohrbach),” Blevins said in a post to Instagram. “I escaped for a narrow win after 7 hard laps. Thanks for all the cheers out there, it’s been a lot of fun these two weekends in SoCal.”

Grotts was optimistic as usual after his setback. He finished just ahead of fellow Durangoan Benjamin Sonntag, who was 13th in 1:30:33.459.

“It’s always important to me to keep my head in the game and continue fighting despite any setbacks; at the end of the day, it’s not about the result but the effort that’s put into it,” Grotts said in a post to Instagram.

Cole Paton of Fort Lewis College was 18th in 1:32:07.585. His FLC teammate Richard Cypress Gorry was 21st in 1:32:44.779. Stephan Davoust, another FLC rider and Durango native, was 35th in 1:36:17.534, Durango’s Troy Wells was 36th in 1:36:21.063, and Durango’s Daniel Johnson was 37th in 1:36:43.155.

Former FLC rider Ryan Standish placed 45th, current Skyhawks Nash Dory and Jason Rowton were 47th and 50th, respectively. Durango’s Bradyn Lange was 54th. Jacob Sacket of Durango was 56th, and Durango’s Keiran Eagen, another FLC rider, finished 57th.

Durango’s Ellen Campbell and Katja Freeburn, both current FLC riders, raced in the pro women’s field. Campbell placed 37th in 1:10:17.087. Freeburn was 39th in 1:11:51.840. The pro women’s race was won by Boulder’s Erin Huck in 1:27:15.176, as she backed up her win a week earlier in Fontana.

In the UCI junior men’s race, Durango’s Quinn Simmons placed fifth in 1:07:51.943. It was the junior cross-country mountain bike champion’s first mountain bike race of the season after spending nearly a month racking up huge results on a road bike in Europe. Durango’s Madeline Robbins was seventh in the UCI junior women’s race in 1:09:33.466.

In the Category 1 women’s race for riders age 15-18, Durango High School freshman Ruth Holcomb placed third in 1:05:10.251 to back up her strong showing in Fontana.

Durango’s Ian Kutzleb rode in the 16-and-under race and finished 17th in 58:47.550.

Blevins also won the Sunday short-track race, as he finished in 20:54.024. Canada’s Raphael Auclair was second in 20:54.455, and Jonas Lindberg of Denmark was third in 20:54.947. Paton rode to an impressive seventh in 20:58.048. Grotts was 11th in 21:00.201. Johnson placed 13th in 21:01.128, Sonntag was 15th in 21:07.127, Gorry was 18th in 21:31.076, and Wells was 21st in 21:40.291.

Simmons competed with the pros in the short-track and finished 26th in 21:41.135. Standish was 32nd, Davoust was 33rd, Sacket placed 43rd, Rowton was 46th, Lange was 49th, FLC’s Henry Nadell was 51st and Eagen was 58th.

Durango’s Cobe Freeburn placed eighth in the junior short-track race.

In the pro women’s short-track, Campbell was 35th and Freeburn was 42nd.

Blevins’ father, Field, joined the action in the men’s 55-59 short-track, and he finished third. In the open men’s short-track, Durango’s Kenny Wehn finished second.

Robbins placed third to land another podium in the junior women’s short-track. Durango’s Lauren Aggeler was 15th and first among girls 14-and-under.

Blevins will hop on his road bike this week at Tour of the Gila, while Grotts and many of the mountain bikers will stay in California for the big Sea Otter Classic.

Moab Rocks

While many pro riders were in California, a three-day stage race called Moab Rocks drew a strong field to Utah as part of the TransRockies Race Series.

Durango’s Payson McElveen placed second in the general classification standings after he won the final stage. He finished with a total time of 5:26:59.0. He came so close to knocking off GC champion Geoff Kabush of Canada, who won in 5:26:55.6.

Kabush won the first two stages and did enough to close the gap to McElveen in the final stage to maintain his lead.

McElveen climbed from third after the first day and into second after the second stage.

“After 3 days and 80 miles of some of the most challenging terrain you can race on an XC bike, I ended up on the wrong side of 3.4 seconds,” McElveen said in a post to Instagram. “I threw everything I had at (Kabush) today, and I have to admit I thought I might have had it a couple of times.”

Durango’s Rotem Ishay, a former FLC rider who leads the college’s exercise science program, rode to a strong 10th-place finish in 5:57:39.5.

In the open women’s field, Durango’s Liz Carrington finished fifth in 7:22:37.6. The winning time came from Fruita’s Sparky Moir Sears in 6:54:44.5.

In the men’s 40-and-over category, Durango’s Miles Venzara placed eighth in 7:02:30.7.

Next on the TransRockies series schedule is a stop June 16-17 in Golden, British Columbia, for a bike and running race.


May 3, 2018
Christopher Blevins leads break before Thomas Revard claims stage at Redlands
Apr 22, 2018
Durango’s Christopher Blevins ninth at Tour of Gila, earns top-sprinter jersey
Apr 19, 2018
Durango’s Christopher Blevins wins Stage 2 of Tour of the Gila

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