Last year’s Breckenridge 100 mountian bike race came down to just 8.8 seconds between first and second place, with German-born pro Ben Sonntag of Durango edging out edging out local pro Josh Tostado for his first win in the event — robbing Tostado of a potential seventh win in the process.
This year Tostado took the lead early and left nothing to chance. Even with a near race-ending crash, the 38-year-old took the top spot, finishing the 100-mile three-lap course in 8 hours, 46 minutes, 15.6 seconds.
“If I do a race, it’s serious,” he said afterwards explaining his approach to competition. “I really didn’t know what the lead was the whole time.”
Tostado pushed hard from start to finish. After the first lap up and over Wheeler Pass — returning to Breckenridge via the Peaks Trail — he had already built an 8-minute lead on Kalan Beisel, of Colorado Springs, who was closely followed by Scott Leonard, of Gunnison. The top three had by then built a sizable advantage on the rest of the pack.
“They were way out in front; it wasn’t even close,” longtime race announcer Larry Grossman said.
Halfway through lap number two, however, Tostado said he clipped a handle bar on a tree — somewhere on Little French Flume — tossing him from his bike at speed.
“It threw me backwards down a slope with logs on it,” he recalled after the race. “I can’t believe I came out of it without killing myself.”
During the crash he said all he thought was, “Oh (expletive), I’m about to die.”
Taking a minute to assess his injuries, he jumped back on his bike and still managed to build a 17.5-minute lead over Beisel and Leonard on his home turf.
After finishing, Tostado — with visible scrapes and swelling on his right arm — told a medic he was fine.
In a race that can end in a heartbeat with any number of mechanical failures, accidents, flats or other bike damage, Tostado’s finished with what proved to be almost a victory lap.
“Nobody’s going to beat him on his home turf,” Grossman said during the race’s third lap.
His prediction proved true. Tostado only added to his lead as the course headed to Como and back over Boreas Pass — returning on the Baker’s Tank Trail.
“I’m so excited I’m not broken,” a tired Tostado told race organizer Thane Wright after crossing the finish line.
The race for second proved to be a little more suspenseful. Beisel, 32, held a narrow lead over Leonard, 42, heading into lap number three.
But Beisel had pushed too hard early.
“I hit the wall and went into pure survival mode,” he said after crossing the finish. Leonard passed him in the final lap, finishing in 9:04:58.97. Beisel crossed the line 15 minutes later at 9:19:32.
“I was just happy to hold my position,” Beisel said after the race. “I came back to redeem myself.”
He’d crashed out the last time he’d attempted the race in 2012.
As for Tostado he said this might be his final Breckenridge 100 — at least for a while.
In the 10-year history of the race, the Breckenridge native has won seven and finished second in the other three.
“I feel awesome, man,” he said describing the moment. “I was really hoping I could pull the win out for my last one.”
As to the reason for his decision: “I’ve done 10 of them. There’s so many other races out there. It’s time to do something else.”
Women’s race results were not available at press time.
The 100-mile course includes close to 14,000 feet of elevation gain and crosses the Continental Divide three times in the process.
Full race results will be posted on www.warriorcycling.com.