With the Queen stage over French Pass yesterday it is likely safe to say that most riders were looking for a bit of a more leisurely day today. On tap for Stage 4 was a 41 mile 6,500 feet of elevation gain day, so hardly a walk in the park. After yesterday’s debacle in finding the course, I packed up the bag and jumped out on the bike to get an hour head start on course. Stage 4 started off much like Stage 2 taking riders up and over Gold Run before hitting some fast and flowy singletrack.
The UCI field came flying through the bermed out lower section of the first descent lead by Russell Finsterwald with overall leader Keegan Swenson tucked tight on his wheel. Finsterwald’s teammate Hannah Finchamp (no relation) jumped out to an early lead over Katerina Nash this morning, which may have caused a few eyebrows to raise both on course and in the Clif Bar team camp.
Today’s stage once again would find the riders out on the Colorado Trail. Beautiful alpine meadows and brutal climbs dominated the course. With two enormous climbing efforts coming in the last 15 miles of the stage, riders were undoubtedly thankful to reach the final downhill segment to the finish.
Today in an attempt to make up for yesterday’s snafu, I spent way more time on the course, which was both a good thing and well, not necessarily a bad thing. Yes, I missed the UCI leaders finishing and have still not seen results. Barring any significant mechanicals or physical meltdowns, the GC will likely remain the same as it has for the previous three days. While I missed the final results for today’s stage, I did get to experience a lot of what the racers took on today. It was hard, very hard, and I don’t have a fraction of the climbing and miles in my legs in comparison to the competitors.
The climbs on the course today seemed to go on forever. Steep and blown out from rain and all-terrain vehicles, many riders took to hiking on some of the more venomous pitches, myself included. The descents did little to serve as a break from the physical abuse. While the stage was a brute, it served up some delightful single track sections. Carving through pine forest and opening into fields with amazing views of the Rocky Mountains, indeed a mountain bikers paradise.
Tomorrows Stage 5 takes riders up to Wheelers Pass, some 13,000 feet above sea level. With little to no warm up the stage starts heading straight up the mountain. We will be on the summit to catch the race action, and also to celebrate the wedding of our very own Scott Williams and partner Jess Nelson high amongst the clouds. Stay tuned for race and wedding coverage tomorrow.