EPIC 2022 – STAGE 2 RECAP
Words: Shauna Farnell Images: Eddie Clark
Breck Epic 2022 – Stage Two – The Colorado Trail
Pictured: Lachlan Morton (EF Pro Cycling) on a mission to claim the leader’s jersey in the pro men’s category
Image courtesy Eddie Clark Media
Morton steers clear of mechanicals to win Stage 2; Nash increases lead with another victory
By Shauna Farnell
BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. – Beating the rain was an extra incentive for fast pedaling in Stage 2, but only about a tenth of the 500ish racers pulled it off on Monday. The beautiful morning and tacky trails spotted with puddles from Sunday’s storms gave way to more afternoon rain, mud, slick roots and rocks.
Although he was splashed with mud right up to his eyelashes, Lachlan Morton missed the downpours and finally found better luck on the racecourse.
The 30-year-old Aussie claimed a decisive victory in Stage 2, clocking in with the fastest time of 3 hours, 16 minutes and 34 seconds, nearly nine minutes ahead of his closest competitor, local pro and Stage 1 winner Lasse Konecny, 18.
“I just tried to not think about the issues I’ve had and just have fun,” Morton said, blinking lashes clumped with dirt. “It was a good day. It was a pretty tough start. The first 10 miles are climb-heavy. I tried to use that to get a gap. Then the rest of the stage is tough, but all [except] for very small sections is all singletrack, so super enjoyable and really fun. To be honest, you don’t have a chance to think about anything else too much.”
Image: Eddie Clark
Rider: Ken O’Donnell
Image: Eddie Clark
Donwtown start, stages 2-4
Image: Eddie Clark
Which climb is the worst?
Measuring about 42 miles including 6,600 feet of climbing, Stage 2 took riders from downtown Breck up Gold Run and Heinous Hill, across Tiger Road to the Colorado Trail – climbing West Ridge and descending Red Trail before looping back through the Dredge trailhead to ZL, descending on Prospector and finishing near French Gulch Rd.
“I hate this stage with a passion,” Konecny said, launching into an animated finish line discussion with fellow pro riders on which local hill climb is the most treacherous and why. “West Ridge is THE hardest climb. You slow down and then accelerate on those flats. It’s super hard. Heinous and West Ridge are my least favorite climbs. I’d rather do Vomit [Hill]. I love Vomit.”
Konecny did his best to hang with Morton from the start, but as the Aussie veteran began to peel away, the local teen did not give chase.
“I stayed with him for maybe the first 25 minutes,” Konecny said. “After that, I was like, he can go. I’m good. We were climbing, then all of a sudden he was gone. He’s a strong climber, so that was expected. Yesterday I turned it on, so I felt it today.”
Cory Wallace of Jasper, Alberta, once again rounded out the Pro Men’s podium with third in Stage 2, finishing 3 minutes and 20 seconds after Konecny and more than 12 minutes behind Morton.
Wife and husband Jen Gersbach and Miles Venzara retrun to racing…and announce their presence with authority.
Katerina Nash put another signification gap between herself and the other women in the field Monday, clinching her second Stage win with a time of 4:05:30, significantly increasing her lead on runner up Sonya Looney, who took second again in Stage 2 but trails Nash overall by more than 26 minutes.
As rain began to plunk down in cold, hard pellets on Monday, one of the most closely contested fields was the Men’s 50-plus group. Don Larsen of Kamloops, B.C. won the stage in 4:16.08 as Omar Dickinson of Golden, Colo., crossed the line about a minute and a half later, followed by Richard Beukema and Jon Hunter, the latter finishing less than 40 seconds ahead of and men’s 50-Plus overall leader Dustin Holcomb of Monument, Colo.
Wipeouts and walks
There was a fair share of mishaps on the increasingly slippery course Monday, including at least one broken collarbone. Men’s 19-plus Stage 2 winner Brian Elander of Evergreen crossed the finish line with one hand on the handlebars, nursing his right shoulder and pro Nico Stallone of Prescott, AZ, crossed the line with his chain sagging, having apparently broken a chain ring about 15 miles into the race and spending the majority pushing his bike up the climbs.
Jane Marshall and Deanna McCurdy of Littleton, the only female duo competing in the 2022 Epic, threw down another impressive performance in Stage 2, finishing in 4:50:04. With a total time of 8:48:04, they are leading all but two duo men and coed duo teams.
One can’t help but wonder how young Nico Konecny, 16, would be doing in the full Epic if he weren’t contained to the 3-day Men’s Open category, which he is handily dominating, having beaten his closest competitor (Michael Hand of Vail) by more than 20 minutes in Stage 2, leading him by more than 35 minutes overall and leaving the rest of his category in the dust. Also, Russell Asleson of Colorado Springs, who at age 67 is one of the oldest riders out there, is crushing the Men’s 60-plus group, easily winning both stages and leading his closest competitor by more than 50 minutes so far.
Stage 3 kicks off from downtown on Tuesday heading up French Gulch to a steep haul and technical descent on Mt. Guyot, presenting the burliest grind of the Epic with nearly 7,000 feet of climbing over 39 miles.
The Epic aid bag system. A thing of chaotic beauty.
Image: Carl Schofield
Local rider Nolan Van Harte
Currently 5th in the Pro Men category
Image Gallery (above): Eddie Clark
Real-time stage and GC results now available.
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