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Grotts reaches podium at Leadville 100 MTB

Sturm places fourth
Cyclists compete in the 2022 Stages Cycling Leadville Trail 100 MTB race on Saturday. (Courtesy Life Time)

More than 1,500 riders competed in the 2022 Stages Cycling Leadville Trail 100 MTB race, owned and produced by Life Time, on Saturday. The cyclists came from all 50 states and 18 countries, racing with 47 locals from Leadville. Cyclists tackled over 13,000 feet of net gain in the race, topping out at 12,424 feet on Columbine Pass.

Lots of cyclists from Durango also competed, and many finished near the front of the pro competitions.

Howard Grotts crosses the finish line in third place at the 2022 Stages Cycling Leadville Trail 100 MTB race on Saturday. (Timothy Mohn/Courtesy Life Time)

Howard Grotts was the top local finisher. Grotts, a three-time winner of the race, reached the podium in third on Saturday, pedaling each of the 100 miles in an average of 3 minutes and 46 seconds. Keegan Swenson won the race in 6 hours and 1 second, followed by John Gaston (6:14:31) and Grotts (6:15:19) in third.

Swenson’s win also secured him first place on the Life Time Grand Prix series presented by Mazda leaderboard. When asked about Saturday, Swenson commented, “We had a big group rolling out from Pipeline and everyone worked quite well together. Going up Columbine it was Howard Grotts, Alexey Vermuelen and myself, and then halfway up I slowly pulled away from those guys, rode at my own pace and rode smart.”

Four other Durango men joined Grotts in the top-25. Cole Paton finished fifth in 6:21:14, Payson McElveen crossed 12th in 6:33:50, Todd Wells placed 17th in 6:41:14, and Stephan Davoust crossed 23rd in 6:49:59.

Wells led the race at the 26-mile mark, but 10 other riders were within five seconds of him. At the 34-mile mark, Paton took the lead, followed by Wells one second later in second. Wells, however, took the lead back and was in first 40 miles into the race at Twin Lakes, but his lead was slim: Only four seconds separated the top 10. Swenson then took over first place at the 48-mile mark and led at every checkpoint after. Grotts, meanwhile, stayed consistent and was in the top 10 at every checkpoint and was in second place for much of the second half of the race.

Sarah Sturm, left, competes in the 2022 Stages Cycling Leadville Trail 100 MTB race on Saturday. Sturm finished fourth. (Courtesy Life Time)

In the women’s category, Sarah Sturm finished fourth to lead the Durangoans in 7:43:56 while her protégé, Ellen Campbell, crossed seventh in 7:49:18.

Hannah Otto took the lead about 50 miles in and won the women’s race in 7:25:11. She was followed by Rose Grant (7:30:41) and Haley Smith (7:42:54) in third.

“Honestly, patience was the name of the game today.” Otto said. “I entered with complete and total openness and without expectation. I honestly didn’t think I was going to win until the last 100 yards. The last time check I got was at mile 70, and at that point I had a 45-second lead, so from there on out I just told myself that’s what I had to play with.”

Sofia Gomez Villafane, who entered the race leading the series, did not finish.

Smith now leads the women’s series standings with 85 points, followed by Villafane (84), Sturm (82) and Otto (80).

Swenson leads the men’s series with 90 points, followed by Paton (82) and Vermeulen (80) in third. McElveen is in eighth place with 72, Grotts is in 13th with 63 and Davoust is 22nd with 42.

The Leadville Trail 100 MTB is the fourth event in the Life Time Grand Prix series presented by Mazda. The 40-mile Chequamegon MTB Festival presented by Trek in northwest Wisconsin will take place on Sept. 17 while the Life Time Big Sugar Gravel presented by Mazda will conclude the series on Oct. 22 in Bentonville, Arkansas.

The Rad Dirt Fest, now in its second year, will also take place Oct. 8 in Trinidad. The Leadville Trail 100 Run presented by La Sportiva, meanwhile, will take place this weekend, Aug. 20-21

Complete results from the Leadville 100 MTB at https://bit.ly/3QKGZiU

Keegan Swenson leads a group of riders in the 2022 Stages Cycling Leadville Trail 100 MTB race on Saturday. Swenson went on to win the race. (Courtesy Life Time)
Hannah Otto celebrates after winning the 2022 Stages Cycling Leadville Trail 100 MTB race on Saturday. (Courtesy Life Time)