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 observe 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 experience in underneath 5 and a half hours. What else did he have to show this yr? Apparently, lots.
“This yr was plenty of firsts. You recognize, I did a 24-hour solo, I did Highway Worlds, Unbound,” Swenson instructed Cyclingnews because the newly-crowned males’s professional champion of the Life Time Grand Prix off-road collection. “Actually, I do not I do know but what subsequent yr brings, perhaps some new stuff.“
His huge firsts of the yr included a last-minute invitation to affix Workforce USA on the UCI Highway 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 general.
“Highway Worlds was an incredible 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 unique fashion of racing than I’ve ever accomplished. I’ve solely ever accomplished small sorts of home highway races. So to race on a stage that huge 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 toes (4,832 m) of climbing for the present 24-hour report.
His experience 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 Massive 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 largest general test he has obtained for an general win.
There’s not plenty of ‘new stuff’ that Swenson can do on two wheels.
“Yeah, I had it locked up moving into at this time. So there was no strain. The previous few weeks I’ve been comparatively chill, we simply have to complete, or simply roll throughout the beginning line at this time. And it is accomplished,” 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 girls and high 10 males.
“However, you realize, I raced to win. And, I simply wished to race and make it arduous at this time. It was time. It was superior.”
It might need been Swenson’s first time racing Massive Sugar Gravel, however not his first time in Bentonville. His final go to to north-west Arkansas was at OZ Trails Off-Highway, 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 discipline 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 Massive Sugar Gravel, which included highway specialists turned gravel grinders Alex Howes (EF Training-EasyPost), Nicholas Roche (Workforce 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 buddy Swenson.
“There was not a complete lot of ways, simply went just about full gasoline from the beginning. And Russell [Finsterwald] and some others had that very same mindset. So it labored out,” Swenson instructed Cyclingnews after the race.
“Russell and I pre-rode the course Tuesday, and I rode Wednesday, Thursday. It is form of a novel course within the sense of there’s a number of brief, arduous climbs, and the floor was actually free and form of blown out simply tremendous dry. So I believed it was gonna be a novel race. There was drafting, but it surely wasn’t like highway ways had been an enormous half on this race.”
With the victory, Finsterwald moved up two locations within the Grand Prix standings, from fifth to 3rd general. Vermeulen was fourth at Massive Sugar and held on to second general within the collection.
“I am actually loving gravel simply because it is form of a brand new factor for me. I really like the combo of ways, health and abilities that play into gravel. Prefer it’s form 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 side of gravel.”