It came down to three minutes of separation.
After a grueling 100 miles, eventual champion Jamie Lamb, 30, of Calgary, Alberta, spun across the finish line in 9 hours, 41 seconds to win the ninth annual Butte 100 Mountain Bike Race on Saturday.
Matt Butterfield, 33, of Kalispell finished second, nipping Lamb’s spokes three minutes later at 9:44.
“The 100-mile mens’ was really exciting,” communications director Jon Wick told The Standard. “It was probably the most intriguing race since I’ve been working the Butte 100. It was the closest top two we’ve ever had."
Ben Parsons, Butterfield’s teammate, placed third in 10:02. All were top pre-race favorites in the elite pro class of the race that started and finished at Homestake Pass on the Continental Divide Trail.
By aid station No. 4, Lamb and Parsons held a comfortable 15-minute lead – until they veered off-course. Soon, by aid station No. 6, they were 20 minutes behind the leaders.
“They then paddled back in the second 50 miles,” said Wick. “So between 50 and 100 miles, they made up all that time. I knew it would be an awesome battle; it was cool to see those guys go after it.”
Ali Wilson, 27, of Kimberley, British Columbia, won the women’s portion of the pro 100-miler in 11.43, beating Ivy Pedersen of Bozeman. Pedersen finished in 12:05.
In the 50-mile race, the top three riders finished tight, too in the overall and women’s categories:
Tyler Jarosz of Bozeman clocked a 5:17 to win the 50, followed by Zach Tondre in 5:20. Scott Urban finished third in 5:31. All hail from Bozeman.
Alisa Wade of Missoula won the women’s division in 6:03, less than two minutes ahead of Heidi Gaskill of Missoula (6:04). Amber Steed of Kalispell was third in 6:08.
In the first-ever 25-mile race that organizers scheduled to draw more recreational riders, it came down to strategy.
Overall winner Pascal Beauvais of Bozeman crossed in 2 hours, 20 minutes. Don Bauder of Bigfork placed second in 2:32.39 and Colin Cornberg of Missoula was hot on Bauder’s heels in 2:32.41. Only two seconds separated the second-and-third-place riders.
“The 25 was fantastic,” Wick said. “It was a lot more sign difficult than people anticipated; that was the general consensus. The 25 is the real deal. It’s a little bit more technical than people thought.”
Primarily a double-track trail, the 25-miler demands a different attack, compared to the 100-miler, a combination of single-and-double tracks.
“People in the 25 should be proud of themselves,” added Wick.
The women’s 25-mile winner was Becca Parkinson of Tetonia, Idaho, who crossed in 2 hours, 43 minutes. Joey Lenaburg of Missoula was second in 2:46 and Elizabeth Paddock of Missoula was third in 2:54.