Christoper Blevins won the first big weekend of mountain bike racing in the United States, while Howard Grotts was busy in the season-opening World Cup event in South Africa.
Blevins, a 19-year-old from Durango, held off strong competition from Phoenix’s Fernando Riveros during a three-day event in the elite men’s field of the Cactus Cup at the McDowell Mountain Regional Park in Fountain Hills, Arizona.
Blevins trailed Riveros by one second after the opening short-track race. He finished in 22 minutes, 30 seconds, while Riveros crossed in 22:29. The pair were well clear of the chase group, as California’s Alex Gatos was third in 23:11.
Saturday’s stage was a 40-mile cross-country race. Blevins was first to the line in 2:28:09, four seconds ahead of Riveros. Phoenix’s Kye Trudeau, 24, was third in 2:28:23, which got him into third in the overall standings.
Blevins, a Specialized Racing team member, entered Sunday’s super enduro stage with a four-second lead on the 30-year-old Riveros. Blevins did all he needed to hold off Riveros and claim the Cactus Cup, as he finished in 9:35, while Trudeau crossed in 9:50.
Blevins’ three-stage total time was 3:00:13, while Riveros came in at 3:00:32. Trudeau finished third in 3:03:13.
“Kudos to (the Cactus Cup) for putting on a race where I couldn’t help but smile at the start line,” Blevins said in a post to Instagram. “Managed to hold onto the overall title after three days in the desert.”
Durango’s Daniel Johnson, 20, finished fourth in 3:03:32. Henry Nadell, 26 and a Fort Lewis College cyclist, was fifth in 3:04:27. FLC’s Nash Dory, 19, was seventh in 3:06:36.
Durango’s recently-retired Todd Wells, 42, competed and finished eighth in 3:07:14.
Caleb Thompson, 34, of Bayfield finished 13th in 3:15:47. Durango’s Bradyn Lange, 18, placed 16th in 3:21:46.
The women’s elite field was led by Phoenix’s Erin Huck, who finished in 3:20:31. Rose Grant of Montana was second in 3:23:11. Former FLC standout Sofia Gomez-Villafañe was fourth in 3:31:21. Durango’s Katja Freeburn, a current FLC cyclist, was sixth in 3:48:44. Ellen Campbell, another Durangoan who competes for FLC, was eighth in 3:52:40.
Durango’s Mike Hicks completed the Cactus Cup in the men’s 65-and-older division. He was first in his category with a total time of 3:53:03.
On the other side of the planet, Durango’s Howard Grotts, 25, competed in the first World Cup event of the 2018 International Cycling Union mountain bike calendar in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
New Zealand’s Samuel Gaze, 23, won the race in 1:30:14 as he edged Switzerland’s Nino Schurter, 32, by one second. France’s Maxime Marotte, 32, was third in 1:30:16.
Grotts, a Specialized Racing teammate of Gaze, was 21st in 1:33:55. He was the top-American finisher and earned 64 points. Keegan Swenson of Utah finished 63rd. The 24-year-old finished in 1:39:52 and earned three points.
“Took myself out on the first lap, but put my head down and got what I could out of the remaining six laps,” Grotts said in a post to Instagram. “End result was 21st, but the fire is there for more.”
In the women’s elite World Cup race, Chloe Woodruff placed 12th in 1:36:09, Lea Davison was 35th in 1:38:01, and Kate Courtney, last year’s under-23 champion, raced in the elite field and finished 24th in 1:39:11 to lead the three-woman American team. Denmark’s Annika Langvad placed first in 1:33:14.