After coming second in 2011, Alban Lakata (Topeak Ergon) has won the 2012 Leadville 100 Marathon. Having spent the majority of the race with Marathon World Champion Christoph Sauser, Lakata managed to get a gap on the return over the Powerline climb, and remained solo to the finish.
At no point did victory seem assured for one of the European professionals. Due to unconfirmed tampering with course markers, the lead group (and others down the field) took a wrong turn early on in the race. At the 40 mile mark, riders such as Tinker Juarez and Jeremiah Bishop were in the leading group. A group containing many race favourites such as Lakata, Sauser and Robert Mennen were about 7 minutes back. At this point, Pua Mata was leading the women’s race, with Rebecca Rusch, Sally Bigham and Gretchen Reeves in arrears.
The decisive climb up Columbine turned the tables. Jeremiah Bishop held a slim lead at the top but was joined by Sauser and Lakata.
On the return through Twin Lakes at the 80 mile point, this trio had a comfortable 5 minute gap over the chasers. Pua Mata was still leading, although Rusch was less than 30 seconds behind and soon attacked. Sally Bigham was another 2 minutes down. When this trio got to the Powerline climb, Lakata managed to break free. Sauser remained close but Bishop was dropped.
Lakata came to the finish line solo, and Sauser was approximately 1.5 minutes behind. Rebecca Rusch sealed her 4th victory when she crossed the line, with Sally Bigham coming in second. The women’s race wasn’t free of course problems. We aren’t aware of changes to the results from protests as yet.
There was no impact on the course record set by Levi Leipheimer in 2010. Although without the extra miles ridden off course, it would be interesting to see what the front runners ‘real’ times may have been.
Watch Alban Lakata cross the line here.