Riders were greeted on Saturday with clear skies and balmy temperatures as they prepared themselves for the neutral rollout ascent up Peak 9 and the infamous snowfields over Wheeler Pass heralding the beginning of the 7th Annual Breckenridge 100.
Josh Tostado, defending 6-time champion and only racer to claim the Breckenridge 100, would be challenged by the likes of Jeff Schalk (Trek), Christian Tanguy (Team CF), and Kelly Magelky (HoneyStinger/Trek/Bontrager).
Loop 1 took competitors straight up, to heights of over 12,000’, crossing the Continental Divide before descending down a treacherously steep mix of rutted gullies, wet scree, and avalanche debris to Copper Mountain Ski Resort. Many racers feared what awaited them. Having to cross three snow fields before reaching the top of Wheeler Pass, many expected slower times overall. However, Tostado’s only concern was driving the pace and identifying early on who felt good and would challenge his reign.
A lead group quickly formed consisting of Tostado, Schalk, and Magelky. They would be the first three to reach snowline and the top of Wheeler Pass. Many, including Schalk, expected Tanguy to be in the lead group, but on this day Tanguy could not match the pace set by Tostado. “The start was so fast … it felt like an XC race.” said Tanguy.
On the steep descent down Wheeler Trail, the leaders never let one another out of sight. They were neck and neck. Then it happened. On the relatively flat Peaks Trail, misfortune struck the defending champion. Tostado crashed. “It’s been years since I crashed that hard” said Tostado.
Despite Tostado’s mishap, Schalk and Magelky were not able to shed him from the group. After 2 1/2 hours, the three riders came through Carter Park all together.
Each rider rode through focused, grabbing fuel before heading out on Loop 2. Spectators were left wondering if the group would stay together. Would Tostado feel the effects of the crash? Would the three leaders work together and wait to attack on Loop 3?
During Loop 2, Tostado and Schalk showed their strength shedding Magelky from the lead group. Neither rider showed any weakness lapping through together for the final round of their championship bout on Loop 3.
As the two headed up Indiana Gulch, Schalk put in a huge effort and distanced himself from Tostado. Schalk had created the winning gap that he would hold all the way to the finish.
Crossing the line, Schalk not only proved he was the stronger of the two, but did so setting a new course record. His time of 8:08:53 bested Tostado’s record of 8:14:37 set in 2008.
“I got lucky today. I haven’t felt that great this year, but I’ve been resting and I felt good today.” said Schalk.
Tostado finished in second place, 4:56 behind Schalk. “I felt awesome today, but Jeff was just on fire.” said Tostado.
On this day, it was Jeff Schalk’s turn to step a top the podium at the Breckenridge 100.
Kirkland takes two in a row
Only two pro women would challenge themselves at this years’ Breckenridge 100. Jari Kirkland racing for Alpine Orthopaedics out of Crested Butte and Melissa Trainer for the Trek Bicycle Store in Boulder.
Kirkland, defending Breckenridge 100 champion, came not only to defend her title, but to improve upon her time from last year. Although Jari did not best her time from last year, she did capture the win with a time of 10:31:36.
Trainer, racing her first Breckenridge 100, put up a fight staying with Kirkland as they headed up Wheeler Pass, but the pace set by Kirkland was too much. “I was with Jari. I actually had my sights on her up the road to the top of Wheeler Pass then progressively I was told ‘she’s 15 minutes ahead of you, she’s 30 minutes ahead of you, she’s an hour ahead of you….’ At that point I just kept pedaling on.”
“I definitely did not feel too great on the first two loops and I told myself, stick it out, stick it out, Jari, stick it out. You came here to ride one hundred miles.” said Kirkland. Around mile 80, Kirkland started to feel strong and knew that she had the race won.
When asked about the Breckenridge 100, Kirkland said, “I think this is an amazing race. People talk about 100 miles and Leadville but, in my opinion, and I’ve ridden the Leadville course, I think this race is the best 100-mile race you could possibly do. Leadville is all road, but Breckenridge is 75 percent singletrack. It’s so much more interesting, more fun, and more difficult, but I like that so much more.”
Men’s Pro/Open Overall Results
- Jeff Schalk
- Josh Tostado
- Christian Tanguy
- Jesse Jakomait
- Kelly Magelky
- Ezekiel Hersh
- Amar Mannina
- Zach Guy
- Jerry Oliver
- Chad Harris
Women’s Pro/Open Overall Results
- Jari Kirkland
- Melissa Trainer