Keegan Swenson (Santa Cruz Bicycles) won his third consecutive Stages Cycling Leadville Trail 100 MTB on Saturday in Colorado, dominating his competitors and the course as he set a new record time of 5:43:29.
The Utah rider smashed the previous record by 15 minutes, and 6 seconds. That former mark had stood since 2015 when two riders went under the 6-hour mark and Alban Lakata won in 5:58:35.
“It was great last year [but] I came up short of the record. This year I was all-in. I was going to send it, I wanted to make it mine,” he said after being 1:26 short of the course record in 2022.
Swenson broke free from a 13-rider front group one-third of the way through the 105-mile (169km) out-and-back course and rode solo for the victory, 24 and a half minutes ahead of his closest chasers.
The best of the pursuers were the same riders as last year, but this time they lost more time to Swenson and finished in a new order. Alexey Vermeulen (Jukebox-Shimano-Q+M), outsprinted John Gaston (STRAFE) to improve from fourth in 2022 to second, while Gaston moved down one spot to third. Cole Paton (Giant) moved up a position from a year ago, taking a solo fourth. Howard Grotts (Specialized) settled for fifth, two spots adrift from last year.
“I just put my head down and gave everything I had on Columbine. Conditions were good, the course was fast and tacky. There was a little bit of wind and rain, but I think overall it was good on the way out. I just knew the pace I had to ride and that was it,” Swenson said at the finish.
With the victory Swenson also extended his lead in the men’s standings of the Life Time Grand Prix presented by Mazda. Leadville Trail 100 MTB is the fourth stop of the seven-race off-road series, and Swenson has swept all four races. His run of top points across the series gives him a 16-point margin over second-placed Russell Finsterwald.
How it unfolded
The Leadville Trail 100 MTB covers 105 miles with the Rocky Mountain adventure starting at 10,152 feet (3,094m) at “Cloud City”, and the highest elevation reaches into the clouds at 12,424 feet at Columbine Mine on the far end of the course. Once cresting the summit, riders reverse direction and return with a slight deviation between mile 68 to 70.5 and then the final 3 miles back into Leadville using the rock-strewn Boulevard climb.
The elite men and women formed the first group on the start grid with cold temperatures, 48°F, and low, threatening clouds. A large group of 13 riders soon…