Last year at the Breck Epic, Alex Grant watched as someone handed fellow pro Todd Wells a victory Pabst Blue Ribbon at the top of Boreas Pass, before the six-stage race’s last descent. The 240-mile race’s final stretch proved to be more a formality than a race for Wells, who had a 9-minute lead on Grant.
This year, however, it was Grant’s turn. He didn’t say whether watching that “beer feed” on Boreas was his motivation this year, but he said a beer was one of the first things he was looking forward to after finishing Stage 5. Grant, who won Stage 1, earned his victory lap this week, eventually building a 22-minute lead over the rest of the field headed into Friday’s final stage.
“My plan today was just to sit on wheels and let people make some moves,” he said after finishing. “I just tried not to smash into a tree or something.”
He officially finished the final stage in third behind Carl Decker and Taylor Sheldon. Japanese rider Kyosuke Takei once again took the unofficial top spot for the stage with another impressive performance after dislocating his shoulder in Stage 2. He finished Stage 6 in 2 hours, 8 minutes, 46 seconds, with the rest of the top five finishers close behind. Takei’s results were not counted in the pro grouping because he was unable to finish Stage 2.
Grant finished the six-day race with an overall time of 16 hours, 50 minutes, 16.2 seconds.
After finishing second in both of his previous attempts — 2010 and 2013 — this year’s victory was all the sweeter.
“I’m so stoked,” he said smiling, with his trademark quiet, even-keeled demeanor. “My first big stage-race win, it’s a good feeling.”
Topping the podium has been his goal since his first time at the Breck Epic in 2010.
“There’s no one more deserving than Alex,” 2012 winner Ben Sonntag said. “He’s always up there (with top finishers) but he hasn’t had a big win.”
Sonntag — a pre-race favorite to earn his second win — finished third overall (11:22:07). He said he just didn’t have it in him this week and realized early on that he wouldn’t contend for the top spot. Spanish rider Joan Llordella (17:14:16.69) held on to second place in his first attempt at the annual race.
On the women’s side, Breckenridge resident Marlee Dixon earned another stage win with yet another impressive performance on her home turf. She finished Stage 6 in 2:32:13, earning third place overall (21:20:02) in the process. Canadian pro Kate Ardall held onto her overall lead with a combined time of 21:05:23.25.3. She finished the final stage third behind Dixon and second-place overall finisher Catherine Williamson.
In all, riders covered around 40,000 feet of elevation gain in the six-day race. Each staged covered a different portion of Breckenridge’s signature trail network.