Breckenridge’s Jaime Brede takes second in 526-mile Haute Route Rockies tour | SummitDaily.com

Breckenridge’s Jaime Brede takes second in 526-mile Haute Route Rockies tour

With her home turf of Breckenridge and Summit County serving as the "Queen Stage" for the 2018 Mavic Haute Route Rockies seven-day cycling tour, Jaime Brede took second-place overall for women when the tour concluded on Friday at Garden of The Gods in Colorado Springs after topping off at the summit of the 14,114-foot Pikes Peak.

Summit County's stunning early summer backdrop was the star of the tour for the elite collection of international cyclists on Wednesday and Thursday, as riders entered the county Wednesday night via Leadville before putting in 113-plus miles all across the county on Thursday.

Thursday's Summit and Clear Creek County Queen Stage — the sixth of seven consecutive days of cycling for the tour competitors — consisted of the most daunting expedition of the entire tour. Riders were required to ascend 11,178-feet of total elevation via five mountain passes, including three with summits over 11,000 feet: Loveland, Guanella and Hoosier passes.

That stage started with a police escort down Breckenridge's Main Street before heading up and over Swan Mountain and then Loveland Passe's switchbacks to enter Clear Creek County.

The cyclists then descended the pass through a scenic bike path in the valley down to Georgetown before climbing and descending Guanella Pass and its recently paved backside.

The day's difficulties certainly weren't over, though, as a stiff headwind on Thursday met the riders when traversing the wide-open range between Grant and Fairplay. Kenosha and Hoosier passes followed before the exhausted riders returned to Breckenridge's downtown to conclude the grueling day.

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Brede entered the day of the Queen Stage in second-place behind Canadian Olympian and eventual overall female champion Lyne Bessette.

Brede's second-place position entering the sixth day came after she posted day five's Avon-to-Breckenridge time just 27 seconds slower than Bessette. Her fast pace moved her up from third to second place overall by the end of Wednesday. It's a position she'd also see at the end of the final day, when cyclists were transported from Breckenridge to Woodland Park before riding to the summit of Pikes Peak and down to the finish line in Colorado Springs.

Though not as extreme as day six's 113-plus miles in tiring early-July heat and windy conditions, the fifth day's prelude to Breckenridge featured 93-plus miles and 8,441-feet of elevation gain. On that critical day, one where Brede jumped eventual third-place finisher Nina Donohue, cyclists departed Avon and ascended Battle Mountain and then Tennessee Pass. It was a relentless stretch that felt like 27 miles of straight climbing leading into Leadville.

Once in Leadville, riders weren't able to take much of a break traversing around the scenic Turquoise Lake. Then after fueling up in the mining town, riders again climbed, this time to the highest point of the day: the 11,300-foot summit of Fremont Pass.

A long and sweeping descent into Summit County followed to conclude Wednesday's Day 5, with competitors using the county's scenic bike path to skirt Frisco before entering Breckenridge.