A yr of firsts for males’s Life Time Grand Prix champion Keegan Swenson

2022 was a yr of novel profession achievements for Keegan Swenson. The mountain bike professional has received US nationwide titles in cross-country and brief monitor XC disciplines, together with all three ranges of cross-country as a junior, U23 and elite rider. 

He has received Leadville Path 100 MTB twice, Telluride 100, Breckenridge Epic, and Pikes Peak Apex. And he has the quickest time within the 100-mile White Rim Path in Moab, Utah, finishing the trip in below 5 and a half hours. What else did he have to show this yr? Apparently, so much.

“This yr was a number of firsts. You recognize, I did a 24-hour solo, I did Street Worlds, Unbound,” Swenson advised Cyclingnews because the newly-crowned males’s professional champion of the Life Time Grand Prix off-road collection. “Truthfully, I do not I do know but what subsequent yr brings, possibly some new stuff.“

His large firsts of the yr included a last-minute invitation to hitch Group USA on the UCI Street World Championships in Australia, the place he was the second-best US finisher, trailing the race winner Remco Evenepoel (Belgium) by 6:20, in 73rd place. The highest US rider was Neilson Powless, 18th total.

“Street Worlds was an important expertise. I feel I realized a good bit there. And man, it was simply loopy,” he recalled concerning the 266.9km males’s highway race.

“It was such a distinct fashion of racing than I’ve ever executed. I’ve solely ever executed small sorts of home highway races. So to race on a stage that large was fairly cool. It was a good time and I’d do it once more if I had the chance.”

The feat within the Previous Pueblo Race set the tone for his health for the remainder of the yr. In his inaugural look there, he netted 336 miles (540 km) with 15,855 ft (4,832 m) of climbing for the present 24-hour file. 

His trip at Unbound Gravel 200 landed on his calendar because the second cease on the Life Time Grand Prix collection. He took second at Unbound, however grabbed high factors as one of the best Grand Prix rider within the occasion. 

He mathematically secured his victory at Chequamegon, utilizing Huge Sugar as a victory lap. In all, Swenson was the highest male finisher at 4 of the occasions within the Life Time Grand Prix and by no means had a race end out of the highest 4. The $25,000 money prize was the most important total test he has obtained for an total win.

There’s not a number of ‘new stuff’ that Swenson can do on two wheels.

“Yeah, I had it locked up getting into right now. So there was no stress. The previous couple of weeks I’ve been comparatively chill, we simply have to complete, or simply roll throughout the beginning line right now. And it is executed,” Swenson mentioned simply earlier than he accepted the first-place prize from Life Time, which offered a complete of $250,000 shared among the many high 10 ladies and high 10 males.

“However, you recognize, I raced to win. And, I simply needed to race and make it exhausting right now. It was an excellent time. It was superior.”

Going gravel

It might need been Swenson’s first time racing Huge Sugar Gravel, however not his first time in Bentonville. His final go to to north-west Arkansas was at OZ Trails Off-Street, with a victory within the cross-country endurance occasion after a nasty crash that resulted in a damaged bone in his hand, a damaged tooth and gnash in his lip. On social media he referenced this near-disaster on a moist bridge as “one among my favorite moments of my profession”. 

This time round in Arkansas, on his Santa Cruz drop bars gravel bike, he confronted an all-star multi-discipline subject of contenders and knock-down gusty winds. He was a part of a choose group of six riders with 20 miles to go within the 104-mile Huge Sugar Gravel, which included highway specialists turned gravel grinders Alex Howes (EF Schooling-EasyPost), Nicholas Roche (Group DSM), Alexey Vermeulen (Jukebox), Adam Roberge (Jukebox) and 2019 XC Marathon Nationwide Champion Russell Finsterwald. It was Finsterwald who launched a shock assault with one kilometre to race and took the victory, forward of his good friend Swenson.

“There was not an entire lot of techniques, simply went just about full fuel from the beginning. And Russell [Finsterwald] and some others had that very same mindset. So it labored out,” Swenson advised Cyclingnews after the race.

“Russell and I pre-rode the course Tuesday, and I rode Wednesday, Thursday. It is sort of a novel course within the sense of there’s a lot of brief, exhausting climbs, and the floor was actually free and sort of blown out simply tremendous dry. So I believed it was gonna be a novel race. There was drafting, however it wasn’t like highway techniques have been an enormous half on this race.”

With the victory, Finsterwald moved up two locations within the Grand Prix standings, from fifth to 3rd total. Vermeulen was fourth at Huge Sugar and held on to second total within the collection. 

“I am actually loving gravel simply because it is sort of a brand new factor for me. I really like the combination of techniques, health and abilities that play into gravel. Prefer it’s sort of a pleasant hybrid of highway and mountain bike,” the Heber Metropolis, Utah rider mentioned.

“I really like tactical mountain bike races, and most gravel races are fairly tactical and require a bit little bit of considering and a bit little bit of technique. So I actually recognize that. And I really like that facet of gravel.”

Leave a Comment