From hospital bed to stage win, Japanese rider Kyosuke Takei threw down an impressive performance in Stage 3 of the six-stage Breck Epic mountain bike race Tuesday, if only for bragging rights.
“He was on a mission today. You could tell he was going for it and riding super strong,” overall race leader Alex Grant said after the race. “I thought I had it and he blew by in this part where I didn’t even think it was possible to pass.”
Just 24 hours after dislocating his shoulder in the final stretch of Stage 2, Monday, the Japanese national champion crossed the finish line of Tuesday’s stage in 3 hours, 9 minutes, 30.2 seconds. Grant finished seven-tenths of a second behind him.
After winning Stage 2, Spain’s Joan Llordella finished third Wednesday in 3:16:38:38, followed by 2012 winner Ben Sonntag of Durango (3:17:57). Sonntag was held up midway through the race after breaking a few spokes and having to change tires.
Unable to finish Stage 2 due to his injury, Takei was removed from the pro field and overall race contention, but will continue to race individual stages in the grand fondo open class. After the race Takei — in limited English — described his shoulder as “OK.” Race organizers, however, said he appeared to be noticeably in pain.
Utah’s Grant officially won the stage and added to what has quickly become a commanding lead in the general classification (GC) standings at the halfway point. With an overall time of 8:46:40 through three stages, Grant holds a 16-minute lead over the German-born Sonntag. Llordella is currently third, less than 3 minutes behind Sonntag.
On the women’s side, Breckenridge’s Marley Dixon took the stage win Tuesday with an impressive run, finishing in 3:56:06, followed by GC leader Kate Aardall at 3:59:57. Kathrine Williamson (4:08:17) finished third, followed by Kelly Boniface (4:12:22). Only a minute separated Aardall, Williamson and Boniface headed into Tuesday’s stage.
Boniface lost the 6-minute lead she had built up after Stage 1 due to mechanical problems on day two. After three stages, Aardall added to her lead with a total race time of 11:03:24, over 8 minutes ahead of Cathrine Williamson, currently in second at 11:11:53. Boniface is in third at the halfway point with a 11:16:49 total race time. Dixon — in her first stage race — is a full 21 minutes behind the leader after complications from a flat tire on day one.
With three stages still to go, a mechanical failure or a crash could still be a big difference maker in either the men’s or women’s competitions.
“These races, anything can happen,” Grant said of the stages to come. “All it takes is a bad day.”
Stage 3’s Mount Guyot course included 8,100 feet of elevation gain on a 46-mile route. Race founder Mike McCormack said it is likely the stage race’s most challenging day.
Stage 4 kicks off Wednesday morning with a 44-mile course incorporating the Aquaduct and Keystone Gulch trails. Riders will start in downtown Breckenridge and finish the loop to Keystone and back at the B&B trailhead in French Gulch.