Stage 6, the Gold Dust Trail. Perhaps the second most fun stage at Breck Epic, but only because there are adult beverages, a DJ, and a dance party at “stage 7.” Characterized by two, fast climbs and two wide-open, ripping descents, The Gold Dust stage caters to riders willing to roll the dice and let it all hang out.
Starting the day third overall and 2:44 off the lead of race leader Todd Wells, Howard Grotts (Specialized) was a long-shot to regain the overall lead. Given the history of the final stage, racers finish in tight groups, but Grotts launched early on the day and was solo going through Aid 1 with a gap of three minutes on Wells (SRAM / TLD / SCOTT) and Geoff Kabush (SCOTT – Maxxis) chasing together.
“About three miles in I was able to get in front,” said Grotts. “I got a bit of a gap and I just had to go as hard as I could because I wasn’t able to get gaps.”
Coming up the second and final climb of the race, Grotts had a 6-minute gap on Wells and Kabush. With a not-very-technical descent between himself and the overall win, Grotts need only to be cautious to the finish. Crossing the line in 1 hour, 55 minutes, Grotts hit the lap button on his Garmin computer and watched until it hit 2:45 — giving him the lead on the most important of days. Wells and Kabush finished in second and third, 4:40 down.
Jeremiah Bishop (TEAM TOPEAK ERGON) finished the day the in eighth, but retained his overall place of fourth, with Kyle Trudeau (CZ Racing) was fifth.
Wells, who looked to have a safe lead going in to the final day, said “Usually we take it pretty chill. It’s usually a fun day and a chance for one of the other guys to get a win. Today we raced flat-out and it was fast all day.”
“I felt pretty decent, but Howie just did the ‘Howie thing’ and took off,” added Kabush, who moved on to the podium after his strong ride on stage 5. “It felt like Todd and I were putting out some good horsepower, but Howie just disappeared. We worked well together and got’er done, but I’m glad it’s over.”
“Oh, that was hard,” said Grotts after getting confirmation of his win. “I think everyone knew it was the last chance to gain some time. Just stoked to time trial it in for the win.”
Meanwhile, Erin Huck (Cannondale – 3 Rox) came in to the final day with more than 11-minutes between her second-place opponent, Katerina Nash (Clif Pro Team), putting Huck in the comfortable place of just needing to follow Nash and sit on her wheel.
Huck went through Aid 1 first, but was caught by Nash before the final climb. Going through Aid 2, before dropping in for the final dive to the finish, Huck even took a beer feed.
Click on any image below to see a huge final day photo gallery. And check out the race coverage section on Mtbr to relive all the action from the 2017 Breck Epic.