Alex Grant (Gear Rush) and Evelyn Dong (Pivot-Stan's No Tubes) prevailed in one of the fastest editions of Crusher in the Tushar against fields stacked with notable road talent.
More than 600 riders competed in the 111km-long gravel race in Utah's Tushar Mountains, including new US national road champion Alex Howes (Education First Pro Cycling), criterium champion Travis McCabe (Floyd's Pro Cycling) and U23 champion Lance Haidet (Aevolo Cycling); along with Team Tibco's Laurens Stephens and reigning "Queen of Kanza", Amity Rockwell.
Stephens went out hard, opening up a solo lead only to be caught and passed by Dong with 10 miles to go, just after cresting the race's major difficulty dubbed the Col d'Crush. Dong opened up a sizable lead while Stephens had done enough to secure second with Sarah Max (Argonaut-ENVE) following in third, three minutes later.
"I definitely didn't expect to win coming into this, having never ridden this course before," said Dong. "It's my first time. A lot of my training is like this, high altitude riding, this is what I love to do. In that sense, this pretty much feels like home."
Amy Charity, Aimee Vasse, Mindy Caruso, Scotti Lechuga, Hanna Muegge, Amity Rockwell and Kae Takeshita rounded out the top 10.
The same climb proved decisive on the men's field, and it was there that Grant launched the decisive attack about halfway up the 2500 ft. climb, dropping fellow leaders Howes and Eddie Anderson (Axeon-Hagens Berman). 39-year-old Grant opened up a 90-second lead by the crest and continued to extend his lead over the next 20km to finish three minutes before Anderson with Howes a further minute adrift.
"Two years I've done it I've had flats, two years I've had catastrophic bonks, and last year I had a pretty good year," said Grant. "This is my sixth time racing, and I finally got the win. Honestly, this was like a dream, like 'maybe I'll win the Crusher someday, maybe not.' I'm so pumped to win it, it was a super-fast day out there, tons of strong riders."
"Oh man, it was tough," said freshly-crowned U.S. road champion Howes. "I was down at sea level before this, so coming back [to altitude], at the bottom of the Col d'Crush, I was feeling like a real champion, and then we hit a certain altitude and I just detonated. I'm actually pretty surprised I held on for third. It's a funny thing at altitude, it's like a bad dream. You just watch people ride away, and there's just nothing you can do. Hats off to Eddie and Alex, both of them rode great."
Cyclo-crosser Jamie Driscoll was fourth ahead of Zach Calton, with TJ Eisenhart, Lance Haidet, Gage Hecht and Travis McCabe and Luke Gangic-Wellman rounding out the top 10.
"It's an absolute honor and thrill to have some of the country's top pro riders add the Crusher to their schedules," said race founder and director Burke Swindlehurst. "But what really fills me with pride and gets me emotional is seeing the weekend warriors--some of whom walked many of the climbs--come across the line hours after the pros have finished. I have crazy respect for anyone who crosses that finish line, and it's seeing those folks achieve their goals that is the most rewarding part of this job."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Alex Grant (Gear Rush)||4:15:08|
|2||Eddie Anderson (Hagens Berman Axeon)||0:03:01|
|3||Alex Howes (EF Pro Cycling)||0:04:11|
|4||James Driscoll (DNA Cycling/Mavic)||0:04:44|
|5||Zach Calton (Spry - Legacy Properties West)||0:08:03|
|6||TJ Eisenhart (Hincapie)||0:09:20|
|7||Lance Haidet (Aevolo)||0:09:21|
|8||Gage Hecht (Aevolo)||0:14:35|
|9||Travis McCabe (Floyd's Pro Cycling)||0:16:04|
|10||Luke Gangi-wellman (Ascent Cycling)||0:18:07|
|11||Travis Lechner (CINCH Cycling)||0:19:23|
|12||Ken Benesh (SBT GRVL p/b CANYON)||0:19:59|
|13||Neil Shirley (ENVE)||0:22:38|
|14||Leroy Popowski (Juwi/Insight)||0:24:17|
|15||Eric Marcotte (Factor/Shimano/Eliel/IRC)||0:26:17|
|16||Spencer Johnson (Johnson Elite Ortho)||0:28:51|
|17||Matthew Tyler Turner (Summit Bike Club)||0:29:16|
|18||Ross Ellwood (Alpha Bicycle/ Groove Subaru CX)||0:31:11|
|19||Allen Krughoff (Chocolove Mavic)||0:33:44|
|20||Noah Simms (Floyd's Pro Cycling)||0:33:57|
|21||Jason Siegle (SDG Muscle Monster)||0:36:17|
|22||Geoffrey Montague (Specifix)||0:37:34|
|23||Chris Mackay (ASSOS Speed Club)||0:37:56|
|24||Danny van Wagoner||0:38:41|
|25||Jake Pantone (ENVE)||0:39:09|
|26||Spencer Glasgow (STAY PARK CITY)||0:40:44|
|27||Jeff Bender (KUHL)||0:41:13|
|28||Scott Moninger (Panaracer/Factor p/b Bicycle X-Change)||0:41:19|
|29||John Borstelmann (Panaracer/Factor p/b Bicycle X-Change)||0:41:42|
|31||Noah Granigan (Floyd's Pro Cycling)||0:43:33|
|32||Brannan Fix (Alpha Bicycle Co.-Groove Subaru)|
|33||Ryan Steers (Giant Factory Off-Road)||0:45:07|
|34||Joe Goettl (ABOVE & AND BEYOND CANCER PB SCHEELS)||0:46:08|
|36||Robert Squire (HANGAR 15)||0:49:21|
|37||Mat Stephens (Panaracer/Factor p/b Bicycle X-Change)||0:50:33|
|38||Chris Smithwick (Fitzgerald's Bicycles)||0:51:26|
|39||John Allison (Stay Park City Cycling)||0:51:36|
|40||Michael Sencenbaugh (Panaracer/Factor p/b Bicycle X-Change)||0:52:16|
|41||Rob Bell (Panaracer/Factor p/b Bicycle X-Change)||0:52:17|
|42||Tyler Cloutier (TCCX)||0:59:31|
|44||Thomas Bender (KUHL)||1:00:42|
|45||Nathan Miller (Roca Roja Bicycles/Ridgway Wrench)||1:01:40|
|47||Drew Miller (Pay 'N Take)||1:08:45|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Evelyn Dong (Pivot Stans NoTubes)||5:02:14|
|2||Lauren Stephens (Team TIBCO Silicon Valley Bank)||0:08:04|
|3||Sarah Max (Argonaut/Enve)||0:11:13|
|4||Amy Charity (DNA Pro Cycling Team)||0:14:42|
|5||Aimee Vasse (Blue Factory Team)||0:20:06|
|6||Mindy Caruso (Nero Veloce p/b Michael Thomas Coffee)||0:21:36|
|7||Scotti Lechuga (Fearless Femme)||0:26:28|
|8||Hanna Muegge (DNA Pro Cycling)||0:28:49|
|9||Amity Rockwell (Easton Overland)||0:34:46|
|10||Kae Takeshita (Panaracer/Factor p/b Bicycle X-Change)||0:49:27|
|12||Charlotte Backus (Orion Racing)||0:56:36|
|13||Christie Tracy (Holland Racing)||1:04:26|
|16||Chelsea Strate (Teravail)||1:38:26|
|17||Turner Ramsay (Alpha Bicycle-Groove Subaru)||2:03:26|
|18||Finn Taylor (Hogan's Heroes)|