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Durango’s Todd Wells wins Breck Epic on heels of Leadville 100

325 miles, 2 wins in Colorado

One day after winning one of the biggest ultra-endurance mountain bike races in the world, Todd Wells added on six more stages.

Wells, 40, backed up his third-career win at the Leadville Trail 100 MTB race last Saturday with a win Friday after six more days of racing the Breck Epic in the Breckenridge area.

Wells finished the 225 miles of Breck Epic trail in 17 hours, 47 minutes, 0.304 seconds to win the race for the second time in his career. SRAM/Troy Lee Designs teammates Russell Finsterwald finished second 4:13 behind Wells, and Durangoan Benjamin Sonntag, who took fourth at Leadville, finished third another 36:25 back. Durango’s Troy Wells, Todd’s brother, also finished fifth after completing Leadville and the Breck Epic. He was 1:12:56 behind his brother.

Wells also won the Breck Epic in 2013, the only other time he’s entered the race that was founded in 2009.

“Any time you win it’s always fun,” Wells said in a phone interview with The Durango Herald. “Leadville was my main target. It was very stressful, and I put a lot of pressure on myself to do well there. After having such a great ride there, the Breck Epic is a kind of fun race. It’s one of the only races I do that is actually fun during the race.”

While the Leadville 100 is a dirt road race, the Breck Epic is a paradise of single-track with each stage featuring at least 5,000 feet of climbing.

Wells picked up two stages wins, as did Finsterwald. After a third-place finish on the 35-mile opening stage of Pennsylvania Creek, Wells claimed the overall lead after Stage 2’s 43-mile race on the Colorado Trail. Wells was second behind Finsterwald after a 41-mile circumnavigation of Mount Guyot, but a Stage 4 win after 44 miles of the Aqueduct helped Wells build a commanding lead he wouldn’t lose.

Finsterwald claimed Stage 5 on Wheeler Pass Trail with Wells close behind. The Wheeler stage features a grueling climb straight out of Breckenridge to 13,000 feet and puts riders through roughly an hour of riding above tree line.

Wells finished Stage 6 on Gold Dust sixth but held onto his overall lead. Bikers even have to get off their bike and hike through certain sections, and Wells called that the most difficult part of the week.

“A lot of the course is very remote and at high elevation,” Wells said. “The trails are just beautiful. To be able to be in that environment with the week I had with such good races and riding with teammates and friends, I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

Wells credited team mechanic Myron Billy for his hard work building bikes before Leadville and racing all around Breckenridge to make sure he and Finsterwald were properly supported.

After his incredible success this week and all season, Wells is hardly missing the Olympics. After competing at the three previous Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Beijing and London, Wells watched as 23-year-old Durangoan Howard Grotts earned the Olympic mountain bike spot from USA Cycling for this year’s competition in Rio de Janeiro.

Wells retired from the UCI World Cup scene after the 2012 Olympics, and recently his focus has shifted even further toward endurance riding rather than cross-country and short track.

“I’ve raced the cross-country style of mountain biking for the last 15 years or so. Once I made the decision to step away from the World Cup after the last Olympics, I didn’t want to just ride around and do whatever races,” he said. “I wanted to pick races like the Leadville 100 where you see the top marathon riders in the world and great road riders, including former Tour de France winners. I wanted to pick something in which I could still compete at the highest level. Those events are what’s driving me right now.”

Even at 40 years old and after switching teams last winter, there’s no slowing down Wells.


Nov 30, 2021
Breck Epic was a showdown of Durango’s Howard Grotts, Todd Wells
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