Colorado Springs pro three-peats as Steamboat Stinger champion | SteamboatToday.com

Colorado Springs pro three-peats as Steamboat Stinger champion

Austin Colbert

— Russell Finsterwald isn't used to 50-mile mountain bike races. Then again, races that length — like Saturday's Fifth annual Steamboat Stinger — are relatively uncommon.

"This is the longest I've raced my bike all year," said Finsterwald, 23, a professional mountain biker out of Colorado Springs. "All our cross country races are about an hour and a half. So it's cool to get out and do a long race on trails. That's mainly why I like it out here is because of the trails. They are so much fun."

Saturday's race, organized by locally owned Honey Stinger, took competitors over Emerald Mountain in Steamboat Springs not once, but twice, a pair of 25-mile loops that tested the best of them. Finsterwald made it look the easiest, winning the men's pro/open division by nearly six minutes with a time of 4 hours, 4 minutes, 22.5 seconds.

Kerry Werner took second in 4:10:58.8, and Chris Baddick was third in 4:14:54.3.

Winning the Steamboat Stinger is nothing new for Finsterwald, who races for SRAM-Troy Lee Designs. He won the second annual race in 2012 in 4:14:01, then a course record. He returned in 2013 to win again, this time in 4:07:58.4, before a scheduling conflict had him go another direction last summer.

"I was really bummed to miss it, but I'm glad to be back this year," Finsterwald said. "I came up here just because it's a fun event. It's my third time doing it. Didn't want to miss it this year. It just happens to be a good training race on fun trails, so there is no excuse not to."

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Finsterwald has been racing professionally since he was 18 and will head to Andorra, in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain, in early September for the UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships. He said his most recent count had him at 17 different countries he's competed in over his career.

Until then, he wants to get a little rest and relaxation in the Yampa Valley and maybe catch some of the U.S.A. Pro Challenge, with Steamboat hosting Stage 1 on Monday.

"I've got a few friends racing, so got to heckle them a little," Finsterwald joked. "There is a lot going on this weekend. I'm going to hang out until Monday and do some fishing, float on the river and do some cool riding."

Park City pro takes women's open field

With her 2-year-old son, Torin, on the podium with her, Emma Garrard accepted her accolades after she won the women's pro/open division of Saturday's Steamboat Stinger, making it even easier for her to enjoy her time in the 'Boat.

"I've always wanted to come to Steamboat, and I've heard great things about this race," Garrard said. "It was such a fun day out there. The riding here is amazing. It was a really hard course, but I had a really good time and really enjoyed myself out there."

Garrard, 34, lives in Park City, Utah, and rides professionally for Specialized. She won Saturday's Stinger in 5:07:38.1, a comfortable distance ahead of second-place Jari Kirkland (5:21:52.8) and third-place Jennifer Moos (5:37:21.9).

Normally a triathlete, Garrard competes in the XTERRA series and fits in a bike race whenever she can. She thought about competing in Sunday's trail runs, also part of the Steamboat Stinger, but was slow in registering and is fine getting some extra shut-eye instead.

"I thought about doing the half marathon, but it sold out. I'll sleep in and take it easy tomorrow," Garrard said. "Anytime I can just do a mountain bike race and win, I feel pretty good about it."

Other winner's Saturday included Robert Umland, of Phoenix Cyclery, taking the citizen men's division in 5:05:49.3. Megan Short won the citizen women's division in 4:42:49.4. A notable local winner included the coed duo team of Brad Bingham and Hannah Williams, who ride for Kent Eriksen Cycles. They won their division in 4:37:01.3, nearly 21 minutes ahead of second place.

The Steamboat Stinger continues Sunday with a trail marathon and half marathon on Emerald Mountain beginning at 7:30 a.m. The awards ceremony will take place around 2 p.m. near Olympian Hall.

To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email acolbert@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Austin_Colbert

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