Clif Pro Team's Benjamin Sonntag Struck & Killed While Riding

Mar 5, 2020
by Sarah Moore  
Elite men s short track podium at Soldier Hollow.
Ben Sonntag winning the Soldier Hollow Pro XCT in 2018.

It is with great sadness that we report on the death of Clif Pro Team's Benjamin Sonntag. The Durango Herald announced today that Sonntag was involved in a fatal crash on County Road 105 in Durango on Wednesday. He was struck by a truck while riding his road bike.

Sonntag was a veteran on the U.S. cross-country mountain bike scene and won multiple national-level races throughout his long career. The German had called Durango home since his days at Fort Lewis College.

He will be sorely missed by his fellow competitors, friends, and the entire cycling community.

bigquotesMy heart is feeling pretty crushed right now.

Ben was one of the really genuine and happy guys that I always enjoyed seeing and catching up with at events. We fought hard on the race course but he was someone that everyone, including myself, cheered for when he had success. Heartbreaking to think about not seeing ZeGerman's smile around anymore.
Geoff Kabush

riders Justin Lindine leads Geoff Kabush Rotem Ishay Ben Sonntag Taylor Lideen and Cal Skilsky.
Justin Lindine leads Geoff Kabush, Rotem Ishay, Ben Sonntag, Taylor Lideen and Cal Skilsky during the 3-day Moab Rocks race.

bigquotesBen was a remarkable human being; he made people in his life feel supported, included, and valuable. His love for cycling, life, his family and his friends shined through in his smile and in his laughter. I was able to spend a week getting to know Ben at the BC Bike Race last summer. His encouragement and support allowed me to have an experience that otherwise would’ve been very different, and left me with memories I will never forget. Ben will be missed by all who loved him and by all who had the opportunity to know him.Serena Gordon

I was lucky enough to spend time with Ben at the 2019 BC Bike Race and he was an unbelievably friendly and positive force who obviously loved spending time riding his bike. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family at this difficult time.

Ben Sonntag follows Payson McElveen during the 2019 BC Bike Race.

Elite Men Short Track at Soldier Hollow

Posted In:
Industry News


  • 233 7
 Can we please stop reporting that a cyclist "collided with a vehicle." It only lessens the situation. He was run over by a motorist. RIP, Ben - no way to express my sympathy to his friends, family, and community. ugh.
  • 146 1
 Fair enough, I have edited the title.
  • 8 58
flag beanandcheeseburrito (Mar 5, 2020 at 12:59) (Below Threshold)
 But cyclists do collide with cars. Just look at Nicky Hayden.
  • 10 31
flag gnarlysipes (Mar 5, 2020 at 13:49) (Below Threshold)
 @beanandcheeseburrito: I’ve witnessed it myself. A cyclist coming down a narrow canyon road way over the speed limit and ran head on into a truck. Luckily he was OK and he was fully aware it was 51% his fault.
  • 13 3
 we dont know the facts
  • 24 6
 Yeah, it's all these cyclists hitting cars and dying, not asswipes distracted by their phones running over us. (*sarcasm for you non-english first language folks)
  • 5 0
 What sort of mouth breathing idiots downvote this sort of comment?
  • 50 2
 Fuck that, riding on the road is so effin dangerous...because of assholes in motor driven vehicles.
  • 15 0
 There are a*sholes for sure, but there are also people who are just negligent (could be labeled an a-hole for that), on their phones, texting, etc...
It sucks.
I enjoy road, mountain and gravel riding, but the road is becoming too dangerous. It's unfortunate since it is an option when the trails are wet, and doesn't require loading up the car.
  • 13 0
 “The pickup truck traveled off the right side of the road, colliding with a fence, continued through a field, and then off an embankment before coming to rest on its right side in Cherry Creek,” the State Patrol said in a news release."
  • 6 0
 @zephxiii: also from the article:

“I’ve ridden that section of Cherry Creek road and that dirt road and haven’t seen any cars,” said Durango’s Todd Wells, a three-time mountain bike Olympian. “A busy ride, you would see maybe four or five cars. I can think of probably 1,000 places I’d guess someone would get hit riding a bike around here, and that wouldn’t even come into the circle of possibilities.”
  • 9 0
 Having been knocked off my road bike, asphalt hurts more than than dirt. My accident compo paid for a damn nice mountain bike, but it's not something I want to repeat... I like the fact that if I fall off my mountain bike it is my fault. That tends not to be the case on the road... Like any crash it all happens so fast. Horrible news and my condolences to all those who knew him. Rip.
  • 19 0
 @ReformedRoadie: I would call negligence behind the wheel an a*shole thing to do. Too many people are complacent at the helm of the world's most prolific lethal weapon, approximately 5 times more people die by car than gun across the world each year (1.25M to 0.25M).
It really riles me here in the UK that sentencing for Death by Careless Driving and Death by Dangerous Driving is so soft. The government proposed a review of driving laws about 4 years ago, but other crap has happened politically to slide it down the priority list. As I see it, you pass a test to gain the privilege to better personal transport, you kill someone with that ton and a half tool, you should lose that privilege. Sadly its now seen as a right.
  • 5 0
 @ROOTminus1: It's too bad they will give a driving licence to anyone. On this side of the pond its even easier to get one. With all the tech in cars and drivers pockets driving is treated like an extension of the living room.
We had a rider killed on our local hill on xmas day. The road goes to the ski hill and during the xmas holiday the average speed is 40kmh over the posted limit. The local police do nothing about it, it's inexcusable.
  • 3 1
 @zephxiii: Sounds like the driver had a heart attack or stroke or something.
  • 3 0
 @bikerbarrett: according to the article he was only 19.
  • 3 0
 It is dangerous which is why I don't ride on road anymore. I have had a few too close encounters with cars and trucks. The main problem is many roads were not made for bikes, so there is not enough room and the difference in speed.
  • 4 1
 @tacklingdummy: A wise decision I also made a few years ago. I've never been hit by a car while riding singletrack. For some strange reason the several times I have been hit was on the road.
  • 2 1
 @ROOTminus1: In such a situation harsh penalties do nothing but cater to the thirst for revenge.
People drive carelessly because they think they are in control and nothing bad will happen. Also because speed limits and "no phone while driving" rules are not enforced. Harsh penalties for things that "won't happen" are pointless.

What might help is increasing the chance of "things happening". Enforcing speed limits, safe overtaking and phone prohibition everywhere.
  • 2 2
 @ReformedRoadie: true, i'm always amazed by people riding in the City with phones in hand or staring straight ahead without any care for traffic. I guess those people are the ones that get hit most often. Still sad.
  • 3 0
 @bikerbarrett: or when memes on group chat are so lit and you just straight up kill people
  • 3 4
 @Muckal: Well that's just natural selection at work...

Rule 1 of riding on the road: Pay attention. All the time.

Rule 2: assume all drivers are not abiding by rule #1
  • 2 0
 @ReformedRoadie: paying attention doesn't help if a driver deliberately hits or tries to hit you, which is what happened to me the last two times and I quit because the third might be my last. And the first of the two spent a year terrorising cyclists and the police said they couldn't do anything as no-one could identify the driver, though they had the number plate. Careful cyclists were hospitalised.
  • 2 0
 @ReformedRoadie: so true. My first driving teacher told me to consider everyone else is trying to hit me and act accordingly. Has worked for 17 years so far, even though i'm not exactly riding the rules on the bike...
  • 18 0
 Terrible news. My heart goes out to the very tight knit Durango cycling scene. Ben was a legendary athlete. sorry
  • 15 3
 Absolutely gutted about this news. Car drivers just don't watch or care about cyclists. My condolences to his family and friends.
  • 10 0

Happier memories from his podium at the the BCBR this summer:

Just looked up times for that day, and I finished almost exactly 2-hours behind Ben, in what was probably the best biking shape of my life. Clearly an incredible athlete, and a great guy from the perspective of people who knew him, and those of us who had the opportunity to (however briefly) come in contact with him.
  • 2 0
 What a kind and positive guy
  • 11 2
 More likely to injure yourself mountain biking, most likely to die road biking.
  • 8 0
 I live in Durango, where this happened. It is a huge shock to the community, and I must say, things are getting out of hand with road biker deaths. This is unacceptable.
  • 13 8
 A person is dead and some people make it about their own opinions about the wording of headlines and whatever other egocentric opinions they have at the moment that are triggered by the circumstances of the person's death. This is tragic and a horrible loss for his family and loved ones. It is not in any way about you, me, or the insanely dysfunctional and narcissistic extended mtb community. My sincere condolences.
  • 9 0
 It's not about people "being triggered", it's about the default use of language at best, exonerating someone before the facts are known, or at worst, inferring blame on a tragic victim. The amended title states the facts without laying guilt at either party.
  • 7 0
 just plain sad
  • 3 0
 I tell you. Recently moved to Penticton. It seems that aggressive and distracted driving is on the rise. I used to road ride all the time. Now I avoid it whenever possible. It is only getting worse. Very sad news.....
  • 1 0
 I use to love racking miles on roads until our postman who commuted regularly on his bike got wack’d by a high schooler texting on her phone. Now I don’t ride on roads if I can avoid it. Overpopulation and lack of accountability have deteriorated our society greatly. Sadness when the result is a bright life lost.
  • 6 4
 Seems like road biking is far more dangerous that mountain biking. Stay off the roads guys either train in the woods or indoors. What a bummer man!!!!!
  • 20 0
 He was in the "woods" on a dirt road that many Durango pros use due to low traffic. Todd Wells said you might see 3-4 cars on that road in any given day.
  • 2 1
 @Bobo-the-Clown: while the county rd/ forest rd around here are safer there have been multiple times I’ve had close calls due to people driving to fast. It takes more distance and time to change direction or come to a stop on dirt roads. Unfortunately carelessness is not just on paved surfaces
  • 3 1
 Annoying when someone dies and people feel the need to get on their soap box about riding on the road. Just fuck off.
  • 1 0
 @kilz:Last year I was road riding on a deserted country road where I'd see 1-2 cars pass me per hour. An SUV passed me and 100 yards later drove off the road and into a tree, no brake lights. I called 911. An old lady stumbled out before I could get over there and sat down. Turns out she had just randomly lost consciousness and crashed. When her husband arrived, she tearfully told him that she didn't want to drive anymore. I thought, yes, yes! exactly!
  • 2 0
 @kilz: Agreed. We're all cyclists. We shouldn't be dying at the hands of negligent drivers.
  • 2 0
 There is no regard for cyclist on road, i have had more close calls and deliberate scare tactics used by motorists this past 2 years then ever before. RIP
  • 3 0
 nevermind, nothing ever changes
  • 4 1
 just like US gun control
  • 1 0
 Australia finally burned, that was a nice change.
  • 2 3
 One reason I'm anti-immigration for the USA. Who uses the road, sees all the cars everywhere, and thinks "We need more people here. That would be great!" The people who want this just blow my mind. I think about the absurdity when I'm trying to road bike without getting killed.
  • 6 0
 Maybe you should go ahead an show a good example by castrating yourself to prevent overpopulation?
  • 5 0
 @Muckal: LOL right on Muckal. "Let's use this story to work in an anti-immigration rant". With a name like Johan there is no way @JohanG 's parents or grandparents immigrated to the U-S-A! right???
  • 2 0
 @dr-airtime: well, probably any real American patriot's ancestors immigrated to the US and A, except for those called Big Bear, Sitting Bull and what not. But these guys a kept away safely, thank God.
  • 1 2
 Times change. There is no reason to support immigration anymore. All downside, no upside.
  • 3 0
 @JohanG: rethink my proposal, it would be good for Murica's average intelligence level.
  • 1 0
 Hate to see these posts. Rest in peace.
  • 1 3
 I ride reverse traffic all the i can see the a holes coming..least i get a chance to avoid this kinda b.shit...R.I..P.
  • 3 0
 thats just plain stupid
  • 1 0
 Godspeed Benjamin.
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