Professional mountain biker from Colorado killed in crash

DURANGO, Colorado (AP) — A professional mountain biker died after being fatally struck by a pickup truck this week in southwestern Colorado.

The Colorado State Patrol identified Benjamin Sonntag, 39, as the cyclist killed on Wednesday, the Durango Herald reported.

Sonntag came to Durango from Germany and won multiple collegiate national championships for the cycling programme at Fort Lewis College, where he graduated in 2010. Sonntag continued to race professionally and was sponsored by Team CLIF Bar where he most recently competed in Greece.

Sonntag was training for upcoming races in California when he was struck by a vehicle driven by a 19-year-old. Sonntag was pronounced dead on scene. Authorities noted he was wearing a helmet.

No charges were filed as of Thursday. The Colorado State Patrol agency declined to release further details.

“This is a massive loss,” said Rotem Ishay of Durango, who was a college teammate of Sonntag’s. “He’s been racing and representing Durango for close to 15 years now. We both came from another country to Durango because we wanted to accomplish a dream and chase our passion. He’s German, I’m Israeli, but our home is Durango.”

Sonntag won the collegiate cross-country mountain bike national title in 2007 and 2008, and added a short-track championship and second-place cyclocross finish at nationals in 2008. He went on to garner top finishes at the inaugural Grand Junction Off-Road in Colorado in 2013 and the Epic Rides series event in 2018 at the Carson City Off-Road in Nevada.

“I remember how much he enjoyed what he was doing. We are fortunate in Durango to have a lot of people with great attitudes,” said mountain bike world champion and Durango cycling legend Ned Overend.

Sonntag is survived by his parents, two brothers and his girlfriend.