Skarda and Swenson Conquer Pikes Peak Apex

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Four days of racing draws to a close as Alexis Skarda and Keegan Swenson are crowned championsof the 4-day mountain bike challenge

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (September 28, 2021) — After 4 days, 120 miles of dirt and over 15,000 feet of climbing, Alexis Skarda and Keegan Swenson, both from Santa Cruz/SRAM, beat strong fields to win the overall general classification at The Pikes Peak APEX. The men’s field featured a who’s-who of American mountain bike racing plus EF Education-Nippo riders Lachlan Morton and Alex Howes, while the women’s field ended up being a tight three- way battle between three well-known domestic pros.

Alexis Skarda during the Pikes Peak APEX. Photo by James Stokoe Photography
Alexis Skarda during the Pikes Peak APEX. Photo by James Stokoe Photography

Racing started in earnest on Thursday with the short, 11-mile technical time trial prologue. Clif Pro Team rider Sofia Gomez-Villafane won the stage for the women, with Juliana/SRAM rider Evelyn Dong and Bear National rider Alexis Bobbitt close behind. Swenson notched his first win of the week for the men, beating out defending overall champion and Colorado Springs local Russell Finsterwald, racing for Clif Pro Team and Ross Bell/Trek Factory Racing rider Riley Amos.

Day 2 of the APEX was the first big stage with nearly 6,000 feet of climbing over 40 miles. Swenson and Amos took off mid-race during the first section of singletrack, never to be seen again. Swenson held on for the win and the GC lead with Amos right behind, followed by Finsterwald and Bear National Team rider Braden Johnson about 5 minutes back after the super-technical finish. Skarda started to take advantage of her climbing prowess by putting time into the women’s field early and holding off Dong and Gomez-Villafane at the line. Dong held on to enough time to take the GC lead from Gomez-Villafane.

Day 3 featured another long day for the riders with the queen stage on Gold Camp and Jones Park. Skarda once again put time into the other women and went over the top of Frosty Park at over 10,000 feet with a lead of several minutes. Despite a strong chase down Captain Jack’s Trail, Dong and Gomez-Villafane couldn’t catch the climber, and Skarda took the stage by over 10 minutes to put her in the driver’s seat for the GC. Swenson continued to dominate the men’s field despite some strong attacks mid-race by Amos and just barely held on for the stage win with Finsterwald in 3rd and three-time Olympian Todd Wells in 4th.

The 4th and final day saw a shorter 20-mile stage with attacks from the gun with riders trying to mix it up. With higher speeds we saw a few more crashes with Alex Howes clipping a tree and breaking a finger and Sofia Gomez-Villafane putting a gash in her knee. While Gomez-Villafane was able to finish and get stitches in her knee immediately by the Centura Health Medical Team, Howes was unable to finish the stage. Skarda put her final stamp on the race by winning her third stage in a row and Swenson made it a sweep by winning Stage 4.

Men's podium at the 2021 Pikes Peak APEX/. Photo by James Stokoe Photography
Men's podium at the 2021 Pikes Peak APEX/. Photo by James Stokoe Photography
Women's podium at the 2021 Pikes Peak APEX/. Photo by James Stokoe Photography
Women's podium at the 2021 Pikes Peak APEX/. Photo by James Stokoe Photography

Immediately following at the APEX Awards & After Party, over $38,000 in cash and prizes was distributed to winners in the pro/open and age group categories. The APEX pays out equally to men and women 15 deep each in the pro/open category and distributes prizes equally to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-place men and women across 5 age categories. All results can be found on PikesPeakAPEX.com

 

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