It was a Durango sweep at the Fat Tire 40 during Crested Butte Bike Week.
Durango’s Ben Sonntag took the top spot on the podium in Crested Butte, beating fellow Durangoan Todd Wells in a sprint to the finish. Payson McElveen of Durango finished third.
The win was the second in a row for Sonntag, who took the title at the Epic Rides Off-Road series June 16 in Carson City, Nevada, when he outsprinted Durango’s Howard Grotts and Utah’s Keegan Swenson to the finish line.
“Carson City was definitely a big confidence booster and even though the Fat Tire 40 became part of my schedule late and wasn’t an ‘A-race,’ my mindset was different and I had the approach to continue with what started last week (at Carson City),” Sonntag said. “I raced more aggressive than usual and wasn’t afraid to head to the front.”
Sonntag completed the 41.8-mile course that featured 6,500 feet of elevation gain and mostly single-track riding in 3 hours, 9 minutes, 55 seconds to hold off Wells, who finished 2.3 seconds back. McElveen created some separation from Sonntag and Wells, but he fell back after he lost the route and crossed the finish line in 3:11:22.7.
“I had no idea what to expect going in to (Crested Butte Bike Week) but was looking forward to the opportunity to get in a tough workout and hang with friends in a beautiful place,” McElveen said in a post to Instagram. “Kind of ironically, the legs were great, and I had the gas to ride away from lead group companions (Sonntag) and (Wells) on the last climb. Unfortunately, the course markings deteriorated in the last few miles and I ended up dropping to third while doing some route-finding. Frustrating, but I quickly got over it.”
The race wasn’t especially smooth for Sonntag, either. He crashed about an hour into the race and had to chase down the lead group before he, McElveen and Wells pulled away.
Durango’s Ryan Standish finished on the podium in fifth place with a time of 3:15:52.9. Levi Kurlander was 11th with a time of 3:21:31.4, Rotem Ishay placed 12th in 3:25:07.5 and Keiran Eagen was 18th in 3:30:16.2.
Amy Beisel of Colorado Springs won the women’s pro race in 3:47:31.2. Fairplay’s Marlee Dixon was second in 3:52:49.2 and Jennifer Smith of Gunnison was third in 3:55:54.2.
Durango’s Ellen Campbell placed fifth in 4:07:19.2 to finish on the podium and Trish Thomas was 10th in 4:29:43.2.