Boniface wins Teva event |

Boniface wins Teva event

Steamboat rider not expecting mountain bike victory in Vail

Luke Graham

Kelly Boniface celebrates on the podium after her win Saturday in the cross-country mountain bike race at the the 2008 Teva Mountain Games in Vail. Boniface took home $750 for her win.

— Kelly Boniface called it one of her more surprising days.

She wasn’t planning on racing in the cross-country mountain bike race at the 2008 Teva Mountain Games in Vail on Saturday, but she’s sure happy she did.

Boniface finished first in the women’s expert division, pocketing a $750 first-place prize.

“It was a last-minute thing,” Boniface said. “I signed up that morning, it was a huge mass start, and I was just riding my own race. I had no idea I’d win it.”

Boniface held off second-place finisher Teal Stetson-Lee by a minute.

The race included three 5 1/2-mile laps that forced riders to climb more than 1,300 vertical feet. Despite snow and several muddy areas throughout the race, Boniface said the course was pristine.

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While the course presented some riders with troubles, Boniface said she was in a comfort zone. Since she had no expectations, she was able to just ride her race.

With so many competitors in the race and the pro division having a mass start just minutes before Boniface’s division started, she said before too long, she was racing with pro men and women as well as riders from her own division.

By the final lap, Boniface was preparing to cross the finish line with a group of other female riders. She figured she was in the top five or 10. The announcer let her know she actually was in first. The other female riders were the tail end of the pro division.

“They announced it, and my friends that were watching were going crazy,” Boniface said. “I absolutely had no expectations for that race. It was fantastic.”

Several other Steamboat Springs riders made it down for the Teva events. Local rider Barkley Robinson finished 17th in the men’s pro division. Nate Bird was with the lead group through one of four laps in the men’s expert division when his body hit the wall.

Bird had to drop out of the race for the first time in his career.

“It was one of those days,” Bird said. “I felt like I ate enough and was hydrated enough. I was in the lead pack the first lap, then I started suffering. My body kicked into survival mode.”