It wasn't just the lack of oxygen in the lungs that became a deciding factor in Aspen this weekend, it would also be the lack of that same thin air in tires that would create the most drama.
Richie Rude came into the second day of racing with a comfortable lead, and the confidence that he was certainly the fastest man in Aspen. Unfortunately, that would all come undone in less than a minute into the first stage of the day. A cut tire sidewall would literally deflate his chances of winning, and all of a sudden the race was blown wide open. Jared Graves looked to capitalize and at one point was within fractions of Sam Hill and the race lead, but Sam kept his cool and would steadily pull away from the pack as the day went on. A late charge from Martin Maes would see him overtake Graves by a spot for second, pushing last year's winner back to third when all was said and done.
In the Women's race, Cecile Ravanel stayed out front all day while the drama played out behind her. Casey Brown, Isabeau Courdurier, Anita Gehrig and Katy Winton were all in contention for remaining podium spots and would battle it out right to the very end. Isabeau was able to pull out a comfortable gap for second, with Casey rounding out the podium by the slimmest of margins.
In the overall, Cecile has it all but locked up while in the men's round we have a renewed battle on our hands and a new series leader. As Adrien Daily and Greg Callaghan struggled, Sam Hill chose the perfect time to turn things up a notch and put it to his closest rivals. And with two rounds to go the fight between Sam and Adrien is going to be too close to call until the season comes to a close in Finale Ligure.