The first big weekend of mountain bike racing in North America was as good as they come for Christoper Blevins.
The 20-year-old from Durango swept the Goldstate Fontana City National sanctioned by the International Cycling Union (UCI) in Fontana, California. The races in Fontana were part of the US Cup series, which Blevins was crowned the overall series champion a year ago.
Blevins, a Specialized Racing Team professional, finished the four-lap UCI pro men’s cross-country race in 1 hour, 32 minutes, 3 seconds. Andrew L’esperance of Canada was second in 1:32:22, and Peter Disera of Canada was third in 1:32:45.
The next day, Blevins won the short-track race in 19:21.914. Simon Andreassen of Denmark was second in 19:25.241, and Jonas Lindberg of Denmark was third in 19:26.119.
“I was super happy,” Blevins said of his results in a phone interview with The Durango Herald. “I’ve been putting in a lot of work this offseason and was hoping that the fitness would come around. I still didn’t expect to win both of them, so it was a really good weekend.”
Blevins drew praise from the likes of former NBA star and Hall of Fame member Reggie Miller. The 3-point ace who played for UCLA and the Indiana Pacers now is a basketball television analyst, but he has his own mountain biking passion and competed in the Category 2 races last weekend at Fontana.
“Nice job my friend,” Miller posted to Blevins’ Instagram after his cross-country win.
All of the racers in Fontana had to deal with high temperatures that caused many to struggle “It was hot and hotter,” Blevins said. “There were illusions. The trail is on a hillside and the sun beats down on the pavement climb, and a lot of people struggled with that. Maybe living in California now helped me with that.”
Blevins wasn’t the only Durangoan in the UCI men’s pro races. Benjamin Sonntag finished ninth in 1:35:25 in the cross-country. Daniel Johnson was 18th in 1:38:23, Stephan Davoust was 25th in 1:39:59, Bradyn Lange was 43rd in 1:46:58 and Jacob Sacket finished 60th in 1:56:32. Troy Wells and Keiran Eagen did not finish.
Durango also had two women compete in the UCI pro cross-country race. Ellen Campbell placed 33rd in 1:36:47. Katja Freeburn did not finish. The women’s winner was Boulder’s Erin Huck, who finished the three-lap race in 1:19:23.
Durango’s Madeline Robbins placed fourth out of 21 riders in the UCI junior women’s race in 59:05. Denmark’s Sofie Heby-Pedersen won the race in 53:18. Robbins, the Colorado Cycling League varsity state champion, was the top American woman in the race.
Cobe Freeburn did not finish the UCI junior men’s race.
Durango’s Ruth Holcomb climbed the podium in the Category 1 Women 15-18 race, as she finished second in 1:00:44. The 15-year-old Durango High freshman finished behind Canada’s Emilly Johnson, who won in 59:29.
In the Category 1 Men 19-29 race, Durango’s Dane Falberg was 11th in 1:25:14. Koby Vargas was 12th in 1:26:32.
Many more elite pros will join the action this weekend at Bonelli Park, and the always heavily-attended Sea Otter Classic will be the next big event after that.
Blevins hopes to continue his strong form and build up some more UCI points in the U.S. before chasing bigger World Cup goals this season.
“I had some good success domestically last year but didn’t put together the strong World Cup I think I’m capable of,” he said. “I want to try to podium or win a World Cup this year, likewise top-five at the world championships.
“I got some good points last weekend and have some points that will carry over from last year. That will help, and I think I will start further up than I was at the first World Cup last year.”