Report by Eddie Clark
Fabulous weather greets racers atop Wheeler Pass
(Aug 26, 2010) BRECKENRIDGE, Colo—Stage 5 of the Breck Epic produced another great day of close racing and stellar weather for racers to cross Wheeler Pass. With 40 miles between the start and finish and 7300’ of climbing on tap, the Wheeler Loop proved to be another epic stage of cross country racing. As if the amount of climbing wasn’t enough, arduous steep switchbacks had racers pushing their bikes up the last several hundred yards to reach Wheeler Pass at 12,500 feet above sea level.
Starting in 30 second waves based on category, racers took straight to the dirt with a climb up Peak 8 before descending to the Burro Trail which ultimately sent riders over Wheeler Pass for a ripping long downhill singletrack into Copper Mountain. After the singletrack, racers took the commuter path back to Frisco, and then the Peaks Trail back to Breckenridge for the finish.
First up and first down from Peak 8 was a smooth looking Josh Tostado. However, Ross Schnell would be first up and over Wheeler Pass where he used his dh skills to build a two minute lead by the third aid station. “The fitness fairy must have visited me last night because the legs are coming around today. This is the biggest week of riding I’ve done in probably three years” said Schnell. As good as his day was, Jeremiah Bishops was 8 seconds better, which gave him his 4th stage win of the week.
Womens solo racing saw Pua Sawicki take another convincing victory. Across the leaders boards, most categories kept their same leaders. After a week of good luck, international racer and men’s open duo leader Clint Muhlfeld suffered a really bad crash close to the finish in which he was taken to the hospital for a possible concussion and other injuries which he is expected to fully recover from.
Sitting in seventh in the women’s open class Ciara Macmanus of Belfast Ireland struggled a bit with the altitude today since her hometown is at sea level. However, knowing she had a fan base following her back home via her blog at TeamSummit.org.uk certainly helped get her over Wheeler Pass today. Back in Ireland, Macmanus has raised close to $3000 for the Marie Curie Cancer Foundation with pledges for her racing challenge. “It’s been a great challenge racing here with the altitude”, said Macmanus of the Breck Epic.
Stay tuned for the final day of racing on the Gold Dust loop tomorrow.
More photos here.