Cristhian Ravelo wins 50-mile Leadville Silver Rush mountain bike race
LEADVILLE — Cristhian Ravelo is taking the summer off from the road racing circuit to come back to Colorado and enjoy some mountain bike racing.
And so far, the EagleVail resident is off to quite a start, winning the 50-mile Leadville Silver Rush on Sunday in preparation for the 100-mile version of that competition, where Ravelo will once again race for the Tokyo Joe’s MTB Team in August.
On the road, Ravelo races for CS Velo Racing out of Philadelphia; this season he has traveled the country on the UCI America Tour, but an injury at the Joe Martin Stage Race in Arkansas in April set him back a bit.
“I touched wheels with somebody and flipped over my bike going like 30 miles an hour, landed pretty hard, probably one of the hardest crashes I’ve taken,” he said.
With an injured back, Ravelo’s training was sidelined for a few weeks, and his racing and training started faltering. He sought medical attention and is now finally starting to feel like he is back to full strength.
“It did feel like a little bit of a comeback to win,” he said of the Leadville race. “It was definitely the toughest of any time I’ve done it.”
Tune up for the 100
Ravelo also won the Leadville Silver Rush in 2016. He said for most of the upper echelon racers like himself, the Silver Rush is a tune-up for the Leadville Trail 100, a doubly difficult version of the Silver Rush.
Ravelo will do that race, along with the Breck Epic and a few of the Vail Recreation District races, before heading back to the East Coast for some more road racing to end the summer. He said being able to participate in stage races around the country and mountain bike races in Colorado is a best-of-both-worlds scenario.
“Last year and the year before, I was traveling so much in the summer, I didn’t do many of these races,” Ravelo said. “It’s been great coming back to it and seeing the people that helped me get started in cycling.”
Before joining the CS Velo team, Ravelo raced for the 303 Project out of Colorado. That’s where he met Andrew Clemence, who raced for the 303 Project in 2017 and 2018.
While Ravelo is just dabbling in mountain biking between road races, Clemence has switched over completely, joining the Construction Zone Racing team out of Phoenix. It’s his first year going full-on in mountain biking, and Sunday was also his first Leadville Silver Rush.
Clemence said on Sunday that he was glad to have Ravelo as a source of comfort in the unfamiliar environment of the Leadville Silver Rush.
“I know Cristhian has been mountain biking longer and he’s really good at altitude, but just knowing that he and I have similar skill sets was a nice feeling,” Clemence said. “I felt a lot better being with him; I knew he would be managing his pace in a way that he could sustain it.”
Ravelo and Clemence got off to a fast start in Leadville on Sunday, putting a gap on the rest of the field for the first half of the race.
“The race started out with a run up a hill, which was a bit odd,” Clemence said. “Cristhian and I both went up it at about 50%. But within three or four turns of the actual bike race, we were at the front.”
Once the course got to a double track road section, “he and I got a gap and we just worked that for the next 10 miles or so,” Clemence said.
Clemence, who would go on to finish fourth, hit a bit of a wall between miles 20 and 30, which is where Ravelo started to lose him.
“On any climb, I would try to drill it a little harder, and then be just a little conservative on the descents,” Ravelo said. “Because if you get a flat or crash, your race is over.”
On the final descent, Ravelo tried to push away the bad memories of his recent fall.
“My mentality was, I’m either going to flat, crash or win,” he said. “So I went as hard as I could.”
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