One week after a 15th place finish at the International Cycling Union (UCI) Mountain Bike World Championships, United States mountain bike star Howard Grotts added a 13th-place finish at another world title race.
Grotts worked his way to 13th at Saturday’s UCI Marathon Mountain Bike World Championships race at Auronzo di Cadore, Italy.
The 25-year-old from Durango was in the lead group of five riders going into the Tre Cime climb. He didn’t have the legs on the final big climb of the day, though.
“Well, that was a tough one,” Grotts said in a post to Instagram. “I felt good for the first half of the race but ran out of gas on the last major climb and had to dial it back a few notches.”
Brazil’s Henrique Avancini won the race. The 29-year-old from Brazil finished in 5 hours, 8 minutes, 29 seconds. He became the first Brazilian to win a mountain bike world title.
Austria’s Daniel Geismayr, 29, was second only two seconds behind Avancini. Colombia’s Hector Leonardo Paez Leon, 36, was third, seven seconds behind Avancini.
Grotts was the top-American finisher. He finished in 5:20:03. Last year, Grotts finished 27th at marathon worlds in Germany. The two-time Leadville 100 winner and back-to-back marathon national runner-up also was ninth at the 2016 marathon worlds race in France and 14th in the 2015 race in Italy.
Ryan Standish, a former Fort Lewis College cycling star who now lives in Aurora, finished 81st in 5:56:33.
“Didn’t quite have a ride like (Dan McConnell) but was able to move up all day from 172nd to finish 81st and stoked how the legs felt, for the most part,” Standish said in a post to Instagram.
Alex Wild of the U.S. finished 126th in 6:24:22. A total of 146 riders finished out of 167 starters.
The women’s race was won by Annika Langvad of Denmark. The 34-year-old Specialized Racing teammate of Grotts finished in 4:53:14, more than five minutes ahead of Austria’s Christina Kollmann-Forstner. U.S. star Kate Courtney, 23, finished ninth in 5:15:34. That result came one week after her cross-country mountain bike world championship, the first for an American woman since 2001.
While the international mountain bike season came to a close Saturday, Grotts will return to the U.S. for a few more domestic events before going into the offseason.
Swiss EpicDurango’s Christopher Blevins, 20, teamed with Utah’s Keegan Swenson to tackle the Swiss Epic stage race.
Fresh off his silver medal finish in the under-23 men’s race at last week’s world championships, Blevins stayed in Switzerland and showed off his incredible motor during the five-stage team race.
Blevins and Swenson won the final stage to finish third overall. Switzerland’s Matthias Strinemann and Andri Frischknecht won in a combined time of 16:56:25.8. Switzerland’s Hansueli Stauffer and Konny Looser were second, 16:09.2 behind, and Blevins and Swenson were third, 18:47.4 behind.
“Our goal today was the move into second overall, but we knew it’d take a huge effort to get 5 minutes back,” Blevins said on Instagram. “We got a lead on the main climb and went all out to squeeze back any bit of time we could. We hit the descent with about a minute lead, which was enough for the stage win but not quite second in (general classification). Happy to end on a high note. Such a fun week with (Swenson), the dude was flying.”
The Swiss Epic is a team event in which the riders must finish within two minutes of each other, and the slowest rider’s time each stage is the one that counts. In five years of the Swiss Epic, Blevins and Swenson earned the best American finish ever.