With no Lance Armstrong on the start list, despite winning the qualifying event earlier this month, the race was wide open and Todd made the most, making up for ride made difficult with mechanical problems last year.
In fact, Todd rode a blistering pace to record the second-fastest time with 6hrs 23mins 38secs. Alban Lakata and Alex Grant finished second and third respectively.
“The race went much better for me this year than last year,” said Wells. “I took three to four weeks to prepare specifically for it. I think that made a huge difference. I was able to ride strong the whole race and beat my time from last year by eight or nine minutes. It was a much better race this year.”
The Leadville Trail 100 takes place in Colorado, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. It’s been going since 1994, the longest running event of its type. The 100-mile course challenges racers to compete over a gruelling 14,000ft (4300m) using an out-and-back format.
Rebecca Rusch confirmed her place in the events history books with a third consecutive win. She also smashed the record she set last year by over 15 minutes, taking it down to just 7hr 31mins 45secs.
“I’m kind of shocked,” she said after winning. “I didn’t think I’d be able to pull that one off with the level of competition that was there today. I thought I would just try to hit my time from last year and I’d be happy with that, whatever the placing.”
“I crushed my own time and I won. I can’t believe I won.”
Todd Wells recounts the race
Todd’s account of a fast race as featured on his blog http://yotwells.typepad.com/ here’s a snippet:
“This year Alban and I rolled off the front of the group on the lower slopes with out much reaction. Alban flatted right before the Carter lake feedzone but his didn’t have spare wheels there and his CO2 didn’t work. That left me alone off the front with 80 something miles to go.
“I cruised the pavement downhill and soft pedaled to the turn off for Hagerman Pass when Jungle Jay, Alex Grant and Greg Krause came across. We hit Columbine and I managed to ride off the front of the group. I felt like I was climbing great and staying with in myself but at the top Alban had almost bridged over a three minute gap.
“Alban caught me on the descent where we were almost crashing into riders coming up the entire way down the mountain. There were many more riders in the race this year and people were fanned out all over the road.
“I got a small gap on him going up the mile long single track section and instead of waiting and riding with him the next eight or so rolling dirt road miles to the Powerline climb I just kept riding my own pace. I was worried he had closed that big gap to me on Columbine so fast that he would be really dangerous if we hit Powerline together. The gap hovered between 25-45 seconds into the base of Powerline climb that is about 20 miles to the finish. I finally cracked the gap open by the time we descended down Powerline to almost 2 minutes. I kept it pegged and opened it up to over four minutes by the finish.
“I felt great for most of the race but in the last twenty miles my stomach turned to knots and I couldn’t eat anything. Luckily I could still drink and was able to keep together to the finish.
“I learned a lot last year and feel like that experience was the main factor in my race. I opted for the S-Works Stumpjumper 29er. The course is really smooth so the lighter weight of the HT was a bigger benefit then the comfort of the suspension.“
1. Todd Wells 6:23:48
2. Alban Lakata 6:27:57
3. Alex Grant 6:35:32
4. Jay Henry 6:38:31
5. Jeremiah Bishop 6:43:34
1. Rebecca Rusch, 7:31:45
2. Gretchen Reeves, 7:35:48
3. Pua Mata, 7:37:50
4. Jenny Smith, 7:39:13