Stage 4 of the Breck Epic men’s division was decided by little more than the length of a bike tire as professional rider Alex Grant of Utah edged series leader Todd Wells of Durango by only 1 second to win Wednesday’s stage.
“Alex Grant is having the year of his life,” said race organizer Mike McCormack.
Unlike Wells, who is training for the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, Grant also has a day job as a police officer in Utah, McCormack said, making his ability to stay in the mix with the other two full-time pros all the more impressive.
Grant finished the 43-mile stage in 3 hours, 25 minutes, 8 seconds. Japanese rider Takai Kyofuke, ranked 13th overall after Stage 4, took third in Wednesday’s stage in 3:27:47. Ben Sonntag finished the day fourth in 3:30:39.
Race officials reported that all four riders were neck and neck going into the third hour of the race, with Sonntag in first. A mechanical issue apparently cost him the lead in the final stretch of the stage.
With four of the race’s six stages complete, the top three contenders remained the same. Wells has the overall lead with 12:13:3. Grant is in second, a little under 4 minutes behind. Sonntag remains in third, 17 minutes behind Wells. The top three reportedly have a comfortable lead over the rest of the pack.
Amanda Carey leads the way for the women after four stages.
She won Tuesday’s stage in a tight finish between first and second. Carey finished Stage 4 in 4:22:35. Kate Aardal, who is second in the overall competition, finished the day in second, 15 seconds behind Carey. Kristen Aamodt finished third on the day and currently is fourth overall. Susan Heywood, third overall, finished Stage 4 in fourth.
Stage 5, today, promises to be a challenging one as the course makes its way from Breckenridge over Wheeler Pass and down a steep section of trail to the Copper Mountain Resort area. The stage starts at Beaver Run and finishes at the end of the Peaks Trail near Peak 7. The race concludes Friday with Stage 6.