After 6 hours, 4 minutes, 1.8 seconds on the saddle of his mountain bike, professional rider Alban Lakata crossed the finish line first in the 20th Leadville 100 MTB, Saturday, earning the Austrian back-to-back first-place finishes and a new course record.
He edged out Swiss rider Christoph Sauser by just over a minute.
“We had to go hard at the end. My lungs are really burning,” Lakata said at the finish.
Todd Wells of Durango rounded out the top three, finishing in 6:18:47.43.
All three riders were within seconds of one another at the final checkpoint, at mile 74.
“We always work together. It’s important,” said Lakata. “Alone it would not be possible.”
Wells hit a wall, mentally and physically, and wasn’t able to sustain the pace during a climb toward the end.
“At power line I reached my limit,” he said. “I knew things weren’t going to be good there but I was hoping.”
He was having his best race up until that point, he said, closing with what he described as his slowest finish.
Lakata credited the efforts of the other two riders for his win. “We did a great job.”
He beat the previous course record, held by Levi Leipheimer, by almost 12 minutes.
The course “was in perfect condition today,” he said
Lakata’s fellow Topek Ergon rider Sally Bigham was the first female finisher in 7:17:01.86, also a course record. Rebecca Rusch held the previous record of 7:28:06. Alison Powers finished second among women in 7:21:57. Rusch was third with 7:35:27.
It was a cold 6:30 a.m. start to the 100-mile race. Temperatures hovered around freezing as waves of close to 2,000 racers rolled out of downtown Leadville.
“People were bundled up. It was slow to warm up,” said six-time Leadville 100 winner and Topek Ergon team manager Dave Wiens.
Anticipated rain held off, and it was a warm sunny Colorado afternoon by the time the first racers finished.
Leadville came alive as more finishers crossed the line. The town park took on a festive atmosphere. Dirty-faced finishers smiled and celebrated with their families.
Todd Murray, Ricky MacDonald and John Callahan maintained the 20-year heritage of the race as the only three men to have competed in every Leadville 100 MTB since the beginning. Murray finished first of the three in 8:10:47.
Summit County Finishers
Drs. Erik Dorf and Greg Poulter, both of whom live in Breckenridge and work for Vail-Summit Orthopaedics, and Poulter’s physician’s assistant, Cameron Youngblood, were among the finishers. Dorf lead the three, finishing in just over 7 hours, 20 minutes. Poulter crossed the line in 8 hours, 37 minutes, and Youngblood finished in 9:11:55.