Payson McElveen defended his title at the Firecracker 50 mountain bike race in dominant fashion Wednesday in Breckenridge.
The 25-year-old Durangoan donned red, white and blue and rode to victory with a time of 3 hours, 43 minutes, 14 seconds on the Fourth of July.
“Every day getting to wear these colors is special, but nothing compares to getting to pull them on today,” McElveen said in an Instagram post.
Breckenridge’s Taylor Shelden was second in 3:48:08, followed by Chris Baddick of Lyons in 3:52:29, Nic Beechan of Idyllwild in 3:52:39 and Durango’s Rotem Ishay in 3:55:20.
McElveen held a 20 second lead on Shelden after the first lap around the 25-mile course that featured 4,000 feet of climbing, and built a big gap during the second lap to ride away with the win.
McElveen completed the second lap of the race eight seconds faster than his first lap, going from 1:51:41 to 1:51:33, which made him the only rider in the 30-man field to cut time from the first lap to the second.
According to the Summit Daily, it was the first time a top-three finisher in the men’s pro race improved his time from the first to second lap since Jamey Driscoll of Park City, Utah, shaved 14 seconds off his time to win the 2014 title.
“After nearly two months of illness, iffy form and bad luck, finally finding the top step again (Wednesday) felt pretty dang good,” McElveen said in a post to Instagram. “It was one of those days where everything clicked: bike set up was perfect for the course and legs were ready to attack on every climb.”
Larissa Conners of Silverado won the women’s title with a time of 4:34:14. Boulder’s Tess Amer was second in 4:40:49 and Marlee Dixon of Fairplay finished third in 4:47:53.
Also at the Firecracker, Sam Vickery of Durango was second in the singlespeed open men’s division with a time of 4:27:08, which was 20:01 back of winner Timon Fish of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Durango’s Bob Hufnagel placed second in the sport men’s 40-44 division in 5:46:53. Mike Torres of Evergreen won the division in 4:59:47.
Durango’s Russ Patterson placed seventh in the expert men’s 30-34 division with a time of 5:10:05. Todd Gearheart of Dallas took the division title with a time of 4:32:22.