The Colorado native returned for redemption, having broken her collarbone in a crash in the first 30 miles of the race in 2019. Once she took the lead with about 55 miles to race, De Crescenzo used her aero bars and clung to the wheels of men’s competitor Elliot Bach from Boulder, Colorado, and then a third rider from the men’s division, for a dozen miles.
She accelerated away on her own when passing the Kahola Dam, continuing in the aero position to power the final 25 miles on her own into Emporia and take the win in 12 hours, 6 minutes, 49 seconds.
Rockwell rolled down the long straightaway on Commercial Street in downtown Emporia to huge cheers from thousands of spectators to finish second, five and half minutes behind De Crescenzo, the wind never relenting to allow her to launch a final attack. Emily Newsom (TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank) rolled across the line for third, another eight minutes after Rockwell.
It was a special celebration for De Crescenzo, who married Jim Snitzer just last Sunday. “Here we are in Kansas and it’s the best honeymoon ever.
“It’s so fun. I like how hard gravel is,” the newlywed told Cyclingnews. “I just like it to be purely very difficult for everyone around me, and it’s a test of how good you are, not how fit you are.”
How it unfolded
At the first checkpoint, 68.3 miles into the 206.8-mile contest, she was riding alongside Cinch Cycling teammate Flavia Oliveira, with a four-minute advantage over Newsom and Whitney Allison (Butcherbox Cycling), with Shayna Powless (TWENTY24) and Rockwell another two minutes back.
De Crescenzo fell back a bit but joined Newsom to work towards the lead in the women’s race after the neutral water oasis near Alta Vista at mile marker 125.2, Oliveiria in the lead.
Rockwell looked like she would use a blueprint from her 2019 race to work her way into contention, as she had moved from sixth place to fourth at the same water oasis, then into second place after the second checkpoint at mile 155.8.
From that second checkpoint, De Crescenzo had grabbed the lead, putting her head down and powered over the rolling dirt roads and pushed to a six-minute lead on Rockwell. Powless rode alongside fellow road racing rival Newsom for many miles, but fell off the pace to finish fifth.
A lot can happen in this endurance event, and the wind seemed to create the most havoc rather than the gravel. Strong winds never relented, giving the advantage to De Crescenzo to hold off any charges.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Lauren De Crescenzo||12:06:49|
|13||Natalia Franco villegas||1:27:51|
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