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June 24, 2005

Race Across America cyclist killed

By Dale Strode
Herald Sports Editor

Race Across America cyclist killed. Durango, Colorado.
Bob Breedlove, an orthopedic surgeon from Des Moines, Iowa, poses for a photograph in 2002. Breedlove died Tuesday near Trinidad in the annual Race Across America.

Tragedy cast a pall over the Race Across America on Thursday.

For the second time in three years, a cyclist competing in the transcontinental bicycle race has been killed.

Robert "Bob" Breedlove, a 53-year-old doctor from Iowa, died when his bicycle was struck by a pickup 28 miles west of Trinidad, according to the Colorado State Patrol.

Breedlove, a solo cyclist competing in his sixth Race Across America, had pedaled through Durango on Tuesday after starting the endurance race in San Diego on Sunday morning.

The nine-day cycling ultramarathon event is scheduled to end in Atlantic City, N.J., after a 3,052-mile trek across the United States.

Breedlove collided head-on with the pickup at 10:15 a.m. Thursday on a two-lane stretch of Colorado Highway 12, according to the Web site for the Insight Race Across America.

The accident occurred on a section of road that sloped gently downhill, the State Patrol reported.

The driver of the pickup said the cyclist appeared to collapse on his bicycle and swerve into the path of the truck.

Breedlove, the father of four, was pronounced dead at the scene.

"I can't get my mind around what has happened," Race Across America director Jim Pitre told the Des Moines Register.

"It doesn't make any sense to me that a rider with that level of experience would drift into the other side."

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The State Patrol said the accident investigation is continuing.

"Speaking both personally, and on behalf of the entire management and all those associated with the race, I extend my most sincere sympathy to the family of Bob Breedlove," Pitre said.

He said the cyclists competing in the race have the option of stopping or continuing to race. The race itself will go on, Pitre said.

At the time of the accident, Breedlove was leading the age 50-plus category. He was in 12th place overall in the men's solo division.

According to the Des Moines Register, Breedlove was an orthopedic surgeon. He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Gretchen. The couple had four children: Molly Wince, 27; Ann Brown, 25; Erika Breedlove, 21; and Bill Breedlove, 20.

Two years ago, Brett Malin of Vail was killed in the Race Across America.

Malin, 30, died after he was struck by an 18-wheel tractor-trailer on Highway 60 in western New Mexico, near Pie Town.

According to the Vail Daily, Malin had just finished a relay section of the race. After he tagged a teammate who continued on, Malin turned back to go to his support vehicle.

As he turned around on the highway, he was struck by the semi and was killed instantly, the Vail Daily reported.

Solo riders in the Race Across America made their way out of Colorado on Thursday. Relay or team riders, who started two days behind the solo riders, pedaled through the Durango area Thursday and Thursday night.

A timing station for the race, staffed by local volunteers, is located at Durango's Santa Rita Park.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


 
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