Sofia Gomez Villafane and Keegan Swenson win Life Time Grand Prix Season Opener at Sea Otter Classic Fuego XL Mountain Bike Race
April 22, 2023
Laguna Seca Raceway, Calif., (April 22, 2023) /ENDURANCE SPORTSWIRE/ – Sofia Gomez Villafane and Keegan Swenson rode to first place finishes at the Sea Otter Classic Fuego XL cross country mountain bike race, the opening round of the Life Time Grand Prix presented by Mazda. Swenson is the reigning series champion and won at the Sea Otter Classic last year, while Gomez Villafane, who placed second in the overall and at the Sea Otter Classic last year, kicked off the series with top points.
In the women’s race, a group of five racers crossed through lap one together, but that group got whittled down to just Gomez Villafane, Vera Looser and Alexis Skarda after Erin Huck and Hannah Otto dropped off. After a long day of solo riding, Haley Smith, the 2022 Life Time Grand Prix champion, caught the group of three with just four miles to go. Gomez Villafane attacked on the final climb back to Laguna Seca and crossed the line solo. Skarda placed second with Looser in third and Smith in fourth.
“At some point I wanted to do an attack, and I felt that last pitch was probably my best chance to go,” Gomez Villafane said. “I dug in pretty deep today to get the win. I’m lucky number 13 and it turns out it wasn’t so unlucky for me.”
In the men’s race, a group of seven racers stayed together through the first lap before riders began dropping off the back as the race heated up during the second lap. Swenson and Russell Finsterwald dropped Christopher Blevins in the closing kilometers of the race and rode onto the Laguna Seca racetrack together before Swenson sprinted to the line ahead of his friend and rival. Former short track cross country World Champion Christopher Blevins placed third.
“I think there was a bit of pressure on myself to win this race, I mean I won it last year,” Swenson said at the finish. “It’s a good way to start off the series, start off with the lead, and that takes pressure off the next few races.”
The racers took on the 100 kilometers of fast fire roads, flowy singletrack and tough climbs in the Fort Ord National Monument with the race starting and ending on the Laguna Seca Raceway track. The course featured over 8,000 feet of climbing to kick off the North American off-road cycling calendar in earnest. Check out a full recap of the men’s and women’s races.
“Kicking off the season with the Fuego XL alongside the cycling industry at the Sea Otter Classic sets the stage for an epic 2023 Grand Prix series,” says Bekah Sands, the Life Time Grand Prix’s project manager. “With a very deep roster of strong athletes of 35 men and 35 women from six countries, we anticipate some fierce competition this year between the athletes across the seven events. We are also excited to be working with Cold Collaborative again to produce Call of a Life Time season two. We look forward to seeing everyone again in Emporia for race two.”
Women’s Race Results
|Sofia Gomez Villafane||Heber City, Utah||30||4:55:13|
|Alexis Skarda||Grand Junction, Colo.||34||4:55:41|
|Vera Looser*||Hinwil, Switzerland||30||4:55:58|
|Haley Smith||Waterloo, Canada||30||4:56:46|
|Erin Huck*||Boulder, Colo.||42||5:00:26|
Men’s Race Results
|Keegan Swenson||Heber City, Utah||29||4:03:41|
|Russell Finsterwald||Colorado Springs, Colo.||32||4:03:44|
|Christopher Blevins*||Durango, Colo.||25||4:04:08|
|Cole Paton||Cashmere, Wash.||26||4:04:26|
|Alex Wild*||San Jose, Cali.||31||4:08:01|
*Athlete not in the Life Time Grand Prix series
The next race in the Life Time Grand Prix presented by Mazda is the Garmin UNBOUND Gravel presented by Craft Sportswear, taking place June 3 in Emporia, Kansas. The Life Time Grand Prix is the premiere off-road cycling series where 70 of the world’s top professional racers are facing off across seven races for a $250,000 prize purse. Visit the Life Time Grand Prix website to view the leaderboard and keep up-to-date on how these athletes are performing throughout the season.
The Life Time Sea Otter Classic presented by Continental is among more than 30 premier athletic events owned and produced by Life Time, including the Miami Marathon, the Leadville Race Series and UNBOUND Gravel.
About Life Time®, Inc.
Life Time (NYSE: LTH) empowers people to live healthy, happy lives through its portfolio of nearly 160 athletic country clubs across the United States and Canada. The company’s healthy way of life communities and ecosystem address all aspects of healthy living, healthy aging, and healthy entertainment for people 90 days to 90+ years old. Supported by a team of more than 30,000 dedicated professionals, Life Time is committed to providing the best programs and experiences through its clubs, iconic athletic events, and comprehensive digital platform.
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Marisa Dobrot | email@example.com | 505-917-5866
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