BEAVER, Utah (July 10, 2021) — The Crusher in the Tushar presented by the Creamery welcomed a field of 577 riders representing 26 states to Utah’s Tushar Mountains outside of Beaver, Utah on Saturday, July 10 for the tenth running of the state’s premier gravel event.
This uniquely formatted gravel race traditionally starts in historic downtown Beaver, the birthplace of famed outlaw “Butch Cassidy” and finishes at Utah’s newest ski and Summer resort, Eagle Point. The Crusher has a 60/40 split of gravel to tarmac sectors and allows riders to explore the stunning backcountry of Utah’s little-known Tushar Mountains and Fishlake National Forest. Racers tackle 10,400’ of climbing over 69 miles on the Crusher course, which is one of the most challenging gravel races in the world, and the only one with a true mountain top finish.
“Our 10th running of the Crusher in the Tushar is a year late, but so much greater than I ever could have imagined it when I started back in 2010,” said Burke Swindlehurst, founder and event director of Crusher in the Tushar. “The way the event has grown without losing the challenge that I envisioned way back when. Now with Life Time’s support, I’m really making good on my vision of sharing the beauty of this special place, while also giving back to my hometown and community.”
In the women’s division, Sofia Gomez-Villafañe (CLIF-Specialized), 27, of Heber City, UT, was able to climb her way to the win ahead of second-placed Maude Farrell and 2018 winner Lauren De Crescenzo (Cinch-Elite) on the final climb and placed first with a finish time of 5:19:12. Farrell finished in 5:21:20. De Crescenzo eventually finished third in 5:30:28.
De Crescenzo, 30, of Atlanta, GA started pushing the pace early in the racer when the women turned off the main road out of Beaver. Initially, only Sofia Gomez-Villafañe was able to hold De Crescenzo’s wheel, but after realizing she would not be able to hold that pace all the way to the finish, Gomez-Villafañe eased off to settle into her own pace, allowing De Crescenzo to open a hefty lead on the rest of the women. Going down the Col d’Crush, De Crescenzo had about a 10-minute lead, followed first by Maude Farrell, then Melisa Rollins and Gomez-Villafañe, with Lindsey Stevenson (ABUS Pro Gravel), Amity Rockwell (Easton Overland), and Hanna Muegge (DNA Pro Cycling).
De Crescenzo was able to hold her lead through the Sarlacc Pit and on to the Col d’Crush, until cumulative fatigue and race day fueling errors caused her to crack, allowing Maude Farrell to catch and pass her just after the QOM point.
After losing time on the flat paved section from Junction to Circleville due to her bike set-up, Sofia Gomez-Villafañe, was able to haul back the few riders still in front of her, taking the lead after the last aid station as the road started ramping up towards the finish with about 10 miles to go. The top 3 were still within a minute of each other at this point, but once cracking, De Crescenzo quickly went backwards holding off Salt Lake City’s Lindsey Stevenson by just over one minute.
Gomez-Villafañe will represent her home country of Argentina in the cross-country mountain bike race at the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo.
For the men’s division, former WorldTour professional road racer turned gravel privateer Peter Stetina (Canyon), 33, of Santa Rosa, CA placed first with a finish time of 4:13:48. Zach Calton, 24, of Ogden, UT secured second place with a finish time of 4:22:27. Eddie Anderson (Alpecin-Fenix), 23, of Richmond, VA placed third in the division with a completion time of 4:25:28.
The men’s race started with a typically leisurely pace on the pavement out of town, but as the group made the right turn to start the first climb the pace gradually increased until the group whittled down to about 25 riders.
Once the pavement ended and the climb continued on dirt, Stetina (Canyon) increased the pace as Eric Brunner (Aevolo) bridged the gap back to a second group containing Zach Calton, Eddie Anderson, Gage Hecht (Aevolo), Bryan Lewis, Nathan Spratt (Ascent Cycling), and T.J. Eisenhart (Imaginary Collective).
As the groups neared the top of the first climb, which starts to flatten out near the feed zone, Calton bridged to Stetina and Brunner, joined shortly thereafter by Spratt, Lewis, and Hecht. Stetina continued pushing the pace to widen the gap back to the chase until the group hit the descent of the Col d’Crush. According to Zach Calton, Stetina took it a little cautiously on the descent, especially through the corners, allowing a gap to open to a lead group of three riders: Brunner, Calton, and Hecht, who also trailed off a little further down the descent.
Zach Calton then crashed, which let Brunner continue ahead solo off the front, but Calton was able to quickly get back on his bike and ride the rest of the descent with Bryan Lewis. When the leaders reached the pavement heading into Junction, it was Eric Brunner solo, followed by Calton and Lewis about a minute back, with Nathan Spratt, Peter Stetina, and Gage Hecht a further minute back. The two chase groups came back together heading into Circleville and were able to catch Brunner on Doc Springs Road heading into the Sarlacc Pit.
Once in the Pit, Stetina and Brunner started applying the pressure again opening about a 10-second gap to Calton and Hecht with a further gap back to Spratt and Lewis. Hecht sat on Calton’s wheel through this section and didn’t really contribute to the work since his Aevolo teammate was up the road with Stetina. As they neared the pavement again before the return climb, Brunner dropped back and rejoined Calton and Hecht, about a minute behind Stetina further up the road. Bryan Lewis and Nathan Spratt were able to catch back on just as the group made the left turn to start the climb up the Col d’Crush.
At this point, Zach Calton settled into his own pace and eventually was able to ride the others off his wheel. By the top of the climb, Stetina had about a 6-minute gap on Calton, with Eric Brunner another 2-minutes back, and the rest of the lead group spread out over climb. Stetina and Calton were able to hold their gaps into the finish; but somewhere along the line Alpecin-Fenix’s Eddie Anderson, who had been dropped on the first climb, was able to catch and pass the rest of the lead group to finish third.
Swindlehurst goes on to say, “Congrats to the honchos who won today—Sofia and Peter—and everyone who tested their fitness and grit to crush the Crusher!”
|1||Peter Stetina||Santa Rosa, CA, USA||04:13:48|
|2||Zach Calton||Ogden, UT, USA||04:22:27|
|3||Edward Anderson||Richmond, VA, USA||04:25:28|
|4||Eric Brunner||Manitou Springs, CO, USA||04:27:54|
|5||Bryan Lewis||Charlottesville, VA, USA||04:28:31|
|6||Nathan Spratt||Salt Lake City, UT, USA||04:28:59|
|7||Stefano Barberi||Reno, NV, USA||04:30:52|
|8||Kyle Trudeau||Tucson, AZ, USA||04:33:05|
|9||Matt Jablonski||Boulder, DC, USA||04:38:08|
|10||Jonathan Baker||Nevada City, CA, USA||04:40:15|
|1||Sofia Gomez-Villafañe||Heber City, UT, USA||05:19:12|
|2||Maude Farrell||Mill Valley, CA, USA||05:21:20|
|3||Lauren De Crescenzo||Atlanta, GA, USA||05:30:28|
|4||Lindsey Stevenson||Salt Lake City, UT, USA||05:31:32|
|5||Amity Rockwell||San Francisco, CA, USA||05:32:35|
|6||Isabel King||Santa Monica, CA, USA||05:35:30|
|7||Melisa Rollins||Salt Lake City, UT, USA||05:42:36|
|8||Hanna Muegge||Belmont, CA, USA||05:46:29|
|9||Sunny Gilbert||Niwot, CO, USA||05:51:22|
|10||Hannah Shell||Boulder, CO, USA||05:56:54|
Full results can be found at Athlinks, here.