Gravel Race Recap: 2019 Crusher in the Tushar

On July 13, 2019 more than 600 riders descended on Utah’s Tushar Mountains for the ninth annual Crusher in the Tushar. After one of the fastest races to date it was professionals Alex Grant (Gear Rush) and Evelyn Dong (Pivot-Stan’s No Tubes) who crossed the finish line first ahead of their respective Pro/Open fields that were particularly stacked this year with notable road cycling talent.  

Alex Howes of EF Pro Cycling with race organizer Burke Swindlehurst. PC: Catherine Fegan-Kim

The Field

Those fields included recently crowned U.S. national road champions Alex Howes (Education First Pro Cycling), Travis McCabe (Floyd’s Pro Cycling) and Lance Haidet (Aevolo Cycling); along with Team Tibco’s Laurens Stephens and reigning “Queen of Kanza”, Amity Rockwell (complete list below). 

The front group hung together early on some smooth Utah gravel. PC: Catherine Fegan-Kim

A Mountain biker prevails

On the men’s side the race once again came down to the aptly dubbed “Col d’Crush,” where 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, a stalwart of the US professional mountain bike scene, sealed the deal on the Col’s steep upper switchbacks, opening up a lead of more than a minute and a half at the KOM/QOM line. Still 13 miles and several climbs from the finish line Grant continued to twist the knife, coming across three minutes before Eddie Anderson with Howes a further minute adrift. 

The 69-mile route featured 10,000 feet of climbing. PC: Catherine Fegan-Kim

PC: Catherine Fegan-Kim

PC: Angie Harker

Women Crush Too

The women’s race took shape when Lauren Stephens, who set a blistering early pace, was caught by Evelyn Dong with 10 miles to go, just after cresting the race’s notorious KOM/QOM. From there, Dong cruised to the win, opening up an eight minute gap over the course’s final miles. Stephens had done enough to secure second with Sarah Max (Argonaut-ENVE) following in third, three minutes later. 

Coming fresh off the Hunt of the North, Lauren Stephens placed 2nd in the women’s race. PC: Angie Harker

For the win

“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.”

Getting lost in the Fishlake National Forest. PC: Catherine Fegan-Kim

“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.”

Neil Shirley, who placed 14th overall, here slinging that new ENVE x Velocio kit. PC: Catherine Fegan-Kim

A Bad Dream

“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.” 

Alex Howes, here taking a water break, equated altitude to a bad dream. PC: Catherine Fegan-Kim

2019 Crusher in the Tushar Results

 Men’s Top-10

  1. Alex Grant - Gear Rush - 4:15:08

  2. Eddie Anderson - Axeon-Hagens Berman

  3. Alex Howes - EF Education First

  4. James Driscoll - DNA Cycling-Mavic

  5. Zach Calton - Summit Bike Club

  6. TJ Eisenhart - Arapahoe- Hincapie

  7. Lance Haidet - Aevolo Cycling 

  8. Gage Hecht - Aevolo Cycling

  9. Travis McCabe - Floyd’s Pro Cycling 

  10. Luke Gangi-Wellman - Ascent Cycling

Women’s Top-10

  1. Evelyn Dong - Pivot-Stan’s NoTubes - 5:02:14

  2. Lauren Stephens - TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank

  3. Sarah Max - Argonaut-ENVE

  4. Amy Charity - DNA Pro Cycling Team

  5. Aimee Vasse - Blue Factory Team

  6. Mindy Caruso - Nero Veloce

  7. Scotti Lechuga - Fearless Femme

  8. Hanna Muegge - DNA Pro Cycling

  9. Amity Rockwell - Easton-Overland

  10. Kae Takeshita - Panaracer-Factor

2019 Crusher winners Alex and Evelyn. PC: Catherine Fegan-Kim

Alex Grant’s Cannondale Topstone

Evelyn Dong’s Pivot Vault

Crusher Gravel Event Highlights

  • 9th edition with more than 600 registered riders

  • 69-mile route with 10,000 feet of climbing. Peak elevation of 10,344 feet

  • Departs from Beaver, UT and ends at Eagle Point Resort

  • Traverses the Tushar Mountains and Fishlake National Forest

  • Course highlight: the 8% average, 5-mile long Col d’ Crush KOM/QOM washboard climb that tops out just below 10,000 ft

We hope to see you in 2020, for the 10th annual Crusher. PC: Catherine Fegan-Kim

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.” 
— Burke Swindlehurst

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