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Rose Grant and Kelsey Urban rounded out the podium in 2:31:05 and 2:31:29, respectively.
Alexis Skarda finished fourth, just seconds behind Urban in 2:31:32.
After 40 miles of flying through the rolling hills of Cable, Wisconsin, Blunk, the US national XC MTB champ, finished with an impressive lead of three minutes.
The deciding factor of the day was a downpour an hour prior to the race that turned the event into a complete mud fest — a particularly stark contrast to the dry grass the riders had ridden during their pre-rides.
“It was crazy. I don’t think anyone expected it to be that muddy,” Blunk said. “It was so slick. It was super squirrelly for everyone in the mud.”
What 👏 a 👏 RACE! Our pro field was absolutely stacked today, and the race was tight until the end. Bradyn Lange and Savilia Blunk (@BlunkSavilia) are your 2022 @LifeTime_Life Chequamegon MTB Fest presented by @TrekBikes champs! 🥇🥇🥇 pic.twitter.com/gAL3TJjnre
— Chequamegon MTB Festival (@cheqfattire) September 17, 2022
Blunk said that the whole race was changed because of the conditions.
“At mile 17, I knew there was a sandy section coming that I wanted to be in the front on. During the race though, it was so muddy and so sloppy. We were in a pretty big group of about 10 and I went into that section first. I was able to ride my own lines and even though it wasn’t a full attack, I looked back and I had a bit of a gap.”
Blunk added that her solo ride, starting at mile 17, was not part of her original pre-race plan.
“I was nervous, but I put my head down, tried to stay aero, and was able to hold it to the finish line,” she said.
Chequamegon, with its difficult pronunciation, (she-wa-me-gon), is a well-established race that is the fifth of six stops on the Life Time Grand Prix series, where riders are inching closer to a $250,000 prize purse.
Blunk, as well as Urban who finished third, are not part of the Grand Prix; however, most of the top finishers behind them are competing in the series.
Grant, who finished Saturday in second, came into Chequamegon fourth in the Life Time Grand Prix. The 39-year-old, who plans to retire after this season, was pleased with her performance.
“When I feel good I have to tell myself, ‘this is my day and I have to own it. I have a responsibility to own it.’ I felt so strong today. It’s empowering and exciting. When you can bring it together it feels really good.”
Urban, another World Cup racer, finished third, happily.
“It was so fun! I was happy it turned out to be a proper mountain bike race. I was expecting a super tactical fast race and instead it came down to who could ride the mud the cleanest. That was really exciting and I’m happy to have given my best before I go into a really nice long, deep off-season.”
Haley Smith, the leader of the Grand Prix, finished fifth on the day and further solidified her lead in the Grand Prix.
Following her sixth place finish today, Sarah Sturm bumped up her standings in the Grand Prix to second, swapping with Sofia Gomez Villafañe who finished in 11th on the day and now sits in third in the Grand Prix series.
The Life Time Grand Prix will wrap up with the final race, the 100-mile Big Sugar Gravel, in Bentonville, Arkansas on October 22, 2022.
Women’s pro results here