Race Recap: 2018 Crusher in the Tushar – by Neil Shirley

Beaver, Utah – The Crusher in the Tushar once again proved anything but predictable in both the weather and riders that would be standing on the podium. By Saturday afternoon, two first-time winners proved to be up to whatever challenge the Tushar Mountains could dish out, with Lauren De Crescenzo (DNA Cycling) having an incredible return to racing after a two and a half year absence caused by a severe accident. On the men’s side, it was another unexpected name at the top, with 21-year-old professional mountain biker Zach Calton (Spry-LPW) putting in an impressive performance.

crusher in the tushar race report
Photo by Cathy Fegan-Kim.

As the 600 riders arrived in Beaver for check-in on Friday, the weather picked up right where it left off last year with rain greeting everyone and rekindling the memories from the finish line hail storm. But by race morning, the clouds had lifted enough to allow full view of the mighty Tushar Mountains that would dole out 10,000 feet of climbing over the 69-mile course that featured a 60/40 split between dirt and paved roads.

crusher in the tushar race report
Photo by Cathy Fegan-Kim.

Tacky, dust-free dirt roads made for a fast start on to the day’s first climb, with 15 riders separating themselves in the men’s group. Further back, the majority of riders settled into a steady rhythm content to keep something in the tank for the second half. The final 20 miles can be unforgiving, beginning with the Col de Crush and providing little respite until crossing the finish line at Eagle Point Resort. Thankfully, cooler temperatures in the valley floor compared to last year’s triple digits took less of a toll on the riders and allowed finish times to be notably faster.

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The Col d’ Crush. Photo by Cathy Fegan-Kim.

The five-mile, 2,300 foot Col de Crush KOM has always proven to be the decisive moment in sorting out the winners from the rest of the podium, and this year was no different as Calton made his move just a mile from the KOM line.

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Zach Calton climbs the Col d’ Crush. Photo by Cathy Fegan-Kim.
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Jamey Driscoll on the Col d’ Crush. Photo by Cathy Fegan-Kim.

“I looked back probably every two or three minutes from the top of the climb to the finish just because it feels like you’re going so slow; when that soft dirt starts to weigh you down, and you’re tired and your legs are starting to give out, and your back starts to hurt”, Calton said. “You just keep looking back wondering if they’re coming. But it worked out, and this is definitely my biggest win ever, for sure.”

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Lauren De Crescenzo attacks on the first dirt. Photo by Cathy Fegan-Kim.

Lauren De Crescenzo’s return to racing, and subsequent Crusher win, is something that few could have predicted after she suffered a traumatic brain injury in April of 2016 and spent two months in the hospital. De Crescenzo actually attributed part of her success to the injury.

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Lauren De Crescenzo on the Col d’ Crush. Photo by Cathy Fegan-Kim.

“I’m just saying that my pain receptors in my brain don’t work anymore, so now it’s just a matter of physical output, what I can actually put out.” She said at the awards ceremony, “The Crusher is definitely on the podium of races that I’ve done. It’s my style of racing. I just want to go really, really hard; and it’s not a matter of playing mind games, it’s just how hard can you go?”

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Rebecca Rush, smiling all the way. Photo by Cathy Fegan-Kim.

Perennial favorites Ned Overend and Rebecca Rusch also had strong rides in their first appearance at the Crusher.

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Ned Overend on the Col d’ Crush. Photo by Photo by Cathy Fegan-Kim.

Overend, who would go on to finish in 7th, is 41 years the elder to race winner Calton. Rusch, who recently won the 350-mile DKXL, and typically prefers distances much greater the Crusher’s 69 miles, went on to finish 7th in the pro women’s field.

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Afternoon rain & hail made for challenging course conditions. Photo by Cathy Fegan-Kim.

Women’s Top-5
Lauren De Crescenzo (DNA Cycling Team) 4:56:49
Karen Jarchow (Team Topeak-Ergon) 5:05:28
Breanne Nalder (Plan7 DS) 5:08:26
Amity Gregg (MeteorX Giordana) 5:09:53
Alison Tetrick (Specialized Racing) 5:13:24

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The winners – Lauren De Crescenzo and Zach Calton. Photo by Cathy Fegan-Kim.

Men’s Top-10
Zach Calton (Spry-LPW) 4:14:42
James Driscoll (Pivot Cycles-Maxxis p/b Stans-DNA Team) 4:15:43
Alex Grant (Cannondale-Gear Rush) 4:16:31
Ryan Petry (CZ Racing) 4:22:26
Bryan Lewis (Cutaway USA) 4:24:12
Jules Goguely (Apex Hyperthreads) 4:27:36
Ned Overend (Specialized) 4:27:48
Cortlan Brown (Hangar 15) 4:29:02
Timothy Rugg (Lauf/Orange Seal) 4:29:52
Robert Squire (Hangar 15) 4:33:55

“364 days of the year I like Burke Swindlehurst…” – Neil Shirley. Photo by Cathy Fegan-Kim.

Crusher in the Tushar

3 comments on “Race Recap: 2018 Crusher in the Tushar – by Neil Shirley

  1. Quote for the day “I’m just saying that my pain receptors in my brain don’t work anymore” said Lauren De Crescenzo

    Do they sell that by the bucket?

    1. I would buy some. lol Sounds like they had great weather this year compared to the previous year’s hot weather. Climbing and heat has to be a killer to morale.

  2. Ned ‘The Lung’ Overend!! Extraordinary alien like sixty freakin two years old and still kicking almost every single racers ass on that mountain. Awesome to see for us aging cyclists, but also sad to see that after over 4 hours of racing, Ned was only 15 mins behind the winner, a young man that could easily be Ned’s grandson.

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