Topeka-native & cycling champion Steve Tilford killed in Colo. wreck

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- Topeka-native and international cycling champion Steve Tilford has reportedly died following a car crash in eastern Utah early Wednesday morning.

The Utah Highway Patrol says Tilford was killed after the crash along I-70 in Utah shortly after midnight.

Authorities say Tilford was heading east in a Mercedes Sprinter when he struck a semi truck and trailer that had tipped on its side.

In a post on the US Mountain Bike hall of famer's website, Vincent Davis said they were involved in a wreck on I-70 in Grand County, Utah.

Davis said he and Tilford were " hurt but fine" after a crash, but were more seriously injured when another semi collided with them. Davis said he suffered a fractured sternum in the wreck.

Officials say Tilford was walking around the crash when the other semi truck failed to see the disabled vehicles and crashed into them.

Last June, Tilford was inducted into the Topeka Shawnee Hall of Fame, which at the time offered a biography of his accomplishments.

He started racing bicycles when he was 14 years old and won the Kansas State Road Championship that year. In 1978, Steve was named to United States Junior National Cycling Team and began training and living at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In 1981, he started traveling internationally racing on the U.S. National Team, mainly in Europe and South America.

Steve then began racing off-road and he won the U.S. National Cyclocross Championships in 1983 and 1984. In addition, he won the first U.S. National Mountain Bike Championships in 1983. In 1986, Steve turned professional for the Levis/Raleigh Professional Team and raced on the road professionally for the next decade in the United States and abroad.

In 1990, he started racing professionally on mountain bikes and finished 18 th in the first World Mountain Bike Championships and finished in the top 20 five more times. In 1991 and 1992, Steve was the Professional Cyclocross National Champion. He has raced the World Championships in three disciplines of the sport – road, MTB and cyclocross, the only U.S. male rider to do so. Steve is also the only U.S. rider to win National Championship medals on the road, track, MTB and cyclocross.

He placed 2 nd in the U.S. Olympic Mountain Bike Trials in Atlanta, Georgia in 1996. In 1998, Steve was the first American male to win the UCI World Mountain Bike Championships Masters title in Mont. Ste. Anne, Quebec, and has won this competition five times. He won the Masters World Cyclocross Championships in 2012 and 2013. Steve was inducted into the United States Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 2000. He has competed in over 2,500 races in his lifetime. He has raced internationally in 30 countries on the highest level for nearly 40 years.