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Off-road race attracts quality Pros to its first edition
Former professional road racer Burke Swindlehurst is organizing his first off-road cycling event dubbed "The Crusher" to be held on July 16 outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. The burly race has attracted the likes of six-time Olympic medalist Clara Hughes along with cyclo-cross talent Tim Johnson and road racers Tyler Wren and Paul Mach.
"It's absolutely thrilling for me to have people like Tim and Clara coming to the event," Swindlehurst told Cyclingnews. "I'm honored that they see the race as a worthy addition to their schedules and I'm also really excited to simply share one of my favorite places on earth with so many of my friends and colleagues."
"In addition to Tim and Clara, I also have my good friend and training partner Tyler Wren (Jamis-Sutter Home) coming," he added. "He's had an amazing season so far including winning a mountain stage of the Vuelta Chile this spring and also one of my former stablemates at team Bissell, Paul Mach, who wore the KOM jersey at the 2010 Tour of California will also be toeing the line."
Categories offered include Pro/Open men, 29 and under, 30-39, 40-49, 50+, single speed, Pro/Open women, 35 and under women and 36+ women. Hughes, who now resides in Utah, began her athletic career as a road racer and won her first two Olympic medals in the time trial and road race. She made the switch to speed skating where she won four additional Olympic medals. She then returned to professional bike racing this year and recently won the Pan Am Championships time trial and her Canadian National Time Trial Championships.
"As a speed skater or a cyclist, I've always felt like it's easy to get caught up in how hard things seem when I'm doing the same thing all the time," Hughes said. "There's nothing like an epic day of training or racing to put things back in perspective. When I found out about the Crusher back in the spring, I knew this would be the perfect thing to kick my butt mid-season.
"I asked my coach to work it in to my training/racing plan and I'll go straight to the Cascade Classic after. I live in Utah and am continually blown away by the natural beauty the state has to offer, and the Crusher is also a chance to see a part of the state I've never explored. It's going to be grueling and I can't wait."
The 126 kilometre course will start in Beaver and offer a challenging route that includes a total of 12,350 feet of vertical climbing through the Tushar Mountains and one King (and Queen) of the Mountain competition before concluding at the Eagle Point Ski Resort. The route is comprised of roughly 50 percent paved roads and 50 percent fire roads.
High altitude snow accumulation has forced Swindlehurst to develop a contingency plan that would re-route the course at a lower elevation. An announcement will be made on July 11 regarding the weather conditions and whether or not the course will need to be re-routed.
"It's going to be very reminiscent of the Boulder to Breckenridge race," Swindlehurst said. "I'd like to make it clear that this is not a road race and a road bike would not be an appropriate for this course. It's most definitely a decision between a burly cyclo-cross bike or a mountain bike. The revised course, if we need to use it, will still be challenging and include 10,500 feet of climbing."