Sofia Gomez Villafañe and Keegan Swenson have claimed their respective victories in the Sea Otter Classic Fuego XL races, with Swenson defending his title at the Sea Otter from 2022 while Gomez Villafañe went one better than her second place of last year.
The womens’ race saw Gomez Villafane form part of a group of five before attacking on the final climb back to Laguna Seca for a solo win. Second was Alexis Skarda, with Vera Looser rounding out the podium.
“At some point I wanted to do an attack, and I felt that last pitch was probably my best chance to go,” Gomez Villafane said afterwards. “I dug in pretty deep today to get the win. I’m lucky [race] number 13 and it turns out it wasn’t so unlucky for me.”
The mens’ race saw seven riders move ahead together through the first lap, before Swenson and Russell Finsterwald dropped Christopher Blevins in the last part of the event. Swenson then outsprinted Finsterwald in the finishing racetrack of Laguna Seca while Blevins claimed third.
“I think there was a bit of pressure on myself to win this race, I mean I won it last year,” Swenson said at the finish. “It’s a good way to start off the series, start off with the lead, and that takes pressure off the next few races.”
Fuego XL 100km at Sea Otter Classic kicked off the seven-round Life Time Grand Prix gravel series on April 22 in Monterrey, California.
Held amongst the hustle and bustle of the Sea Otter Classics events and expo show, the gravel racing contenders lined up to race a two-lap marathon event covering approximately 70 miles and 7,800 feet of elevation change.
Seventy of the best gravel racers in the country are competing in the 2023 season for a $250,000 prize purse.
Not only did Fuego XL kick off this season’s Life Time Grand Prix, but it also served as a qualifier for the Stages Cycling Leadville Trail 100 MTB on August 12 in Leadville, Colorado.
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