Lachlan Morton and Alex Howes are currently dominating the top of the leaderboard in the Old Man Winter Rally.
The WorldTour pros, both riding for EF Education-Nippo, have taken on the brutal 100km off-road event in their home state Colorado.
Reigning US champion Howes and team-mate Morton made a last-minute decision to enter the socially distanced race, completing the course in the fastest time so far with four days still remaining in the competition.
The elite level riders as well ahead of their nearest contender, setting a time 24 minutes faster than third place.
The 2021 edition, which features a 50km and 100km off-road rides or a 10km run (or both), sees competitors given a nine-day window to complete the course and then upload their GPS file to be included on the leaderboard, with the winner being declared after February 14.
Morton, 29, currently sits top of the 100km bike event with a time of 2-29-57, with Howes second at 2-30-00. Third place is currently David Sachs with a time of 2-54-12.
The women’s competition is currently led by 2019 winner Erin Huck, who finished the course in 2-57-01.
“We wanted to get out there and put time on the board. We also just wanted to show our support for the event and the Colorado riding community,” Howes said.
“Normally Old Man Winter is a great opportunity to see and spend time with many of my riding buddies here in Colorado. I was bummed to miss out on seeing everyone, but we still had a great time this year.”
Howes and Morton only decided to enter the contest on Thursday (February 4), just two days before the event started.
When Howes text Morton asking if he wanted to race, he received a thumbs up emoji from his Australian team-mate and the date was set.
The pair made it through the challenging 100km course with a puncture and a crash for Morton, but they still set the fastest time.
Riders and runners traditionally face all kinds of challenges on the day in the Old Man Winter Rally, based around the city of Lyons, including rain, snow and hailstorms.
The 100km ride is a challenging course featuring gravel roads, some tough climbs, fast tarmac and the infamous Rowena trail.
Split into two timed segments, this year riders can choose to complete the two segments on the same day or split them across different days.
The last bike event held was in 2019 (after the rides were cancelled last year) and the fastest male finisher was Yannick Eckmann, with a time of three hours and 30 minutes, just four seconds ahead of second place Ken Benesh.
Erin Huck was the fastest female finish with a time of four hours, while Trek Segafredo’s Ruth Winder came in second.