Breck Epic: Riders climb into position on Day 4 |

Breck Epic: Riders climb into position on Day 4

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Summit County, Colorado

BRECKENRIDGE – After slugging down some water at the finish area at the Bomber Trailhead in French Gulch on Wednesday, Dave Wilson anxiously peered out from the shade of the refreshment tent at the digital clock above the finish line.

Wilson just had what he called “one of the best races of (his) life” in the fourth stage of the Breck Epic. And now the military vet and school teacher from Texas was waiting to see if he’d snagged the overall lead in the singlespeed division of the inaugural six-stage mountain bike race.

“Everything just kind of came together today,” he said, jokingly holding up crossed fingers and hoping he’d erased the four minute and 55 second deficit that Colorado Springs’ Dan Durland held entering the 44-mile stage that consisted of roughly 9,400 vertical feet of climbing.

Then Durland crossed the finish in the leader’s black jersey, a bit too soon for Wilson’s comfort.

Actually, just a single second too soon, as Durland’s overall, four-day time of 10:42:29 just edged out Wilson’s 10:42:30.

“It was awful out there,” Durland said with a laugh. ” … That’s probably the best trail, course we’ll have to ride this week. It was great. But if your legs aren’t there, your legs aren’t there, and you’re in trouble. That’s what happened to me today.”

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Durland, who expected little more than finishing all six stages this week, now finds himself in the driver’s seat with only two stages left.

“I’d sure like to win it, because now, I think I can,” he added. “But it’s just going to be fun. If I don’t win, I don’t win, it’s not a big deal.”

Wilson was hoping for a little bit of separation heading into Day 5, but will have to try to make his move rather than hang back with the pack.

“I’d rather ride with them than try to pound ’em in,” he said. “It’s a lot more fun to ride with them, but you have to do what you need to.”

For Jeremiah Bishop, Wednesday’s stage was everything that he loved about mountain bike racing.

“It was just epic Alpine tundra, climbing giant cone-shaped mountains, it was just way the hell up there,” he said. “It was sick.”

And that didn’t even have anything to do with his dominant performance in the difficult climbing stage. Bishop increased his overall lead by finishing the 44 miles in 3:33:16, topping second-place racer Travis Brown by nearly seven minutes.

“Today, I was able to open up the lead a little bit,” he said. “Today was really good because now I have a buffer in case I get a flat or anything.”

After losing so much ground, Brown was just happy to be done with the stage. The Durango resident missed the first feeding station on the course, forcing him to “ride dry” deep into the race.

“I kind of held it together until the bottom of the Colorado Trail section, then I became unglued,” Brown said. “After that, it was pretty much damage control. But I made it in without having to stop and take a nap – I’m happy about that.”

On the women’s side, Jennifer Gersbach continued to cruise in the leading position. Up from the Front Range for the race, Gersbach wasn’t sure of what to expect from the rest of the race.

“The thing that I like is that everyday has been a surprise, you don’t really know what to expect,” she said. “I’m just looking for some good weather, and we’ll see what happens.”

Winning wouldn’t be too shabby either.

“It’s nice to do well and know that I can,” she added.

The race continues today, when racers climb across Peak 8 in Breck. The Breck Epic concludes Friday with a 37-mile stage that ends at the Stephen C. West Ice Arena at the south end of town.

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