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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colorado (VN) — It was a repeat victory for Lauren De Crescenzo in Steamboat Springs on Sunday, where the Colorado-born racer won the 142-mile SBT GRVL for the second year in a row.
The 31-year-old said that her main objective on the day was to make her family — many of them in attendance — proud.
“I think it worked, they look pretty proud,” she said. “This is definitely a hometown race.”
Nevertheless, anyone who’s followed the former pro road cyclist’s career knows that she’s fiercely competitive. Especially at this race, and even more so at this race after finishing second at two of her target events for the 2022 season — Unbound Gravel and USA Cycling Pro Road Nationals.
“Yeah, I was ready to take a first place,” De Crescenzo said. “Between getting second at Unbound and second at US pro nationals, I’ve been thinking about it a bit. I know second place isn’t bad but it’s a hard place to be, to be so close.”
De Crescenzo used a signature move to ride to her redemptive win on Sunday — she went solo.
“I did a typical LDC, when that Oak Creek climb started, that’s when I knew I just had to kinda pin it and just ride my zones that I’m used to riding.”
From that point, around mile 110 to the finish, De Crescenzo moved her way through random male racers until the finish.
However, for much of the race, she was riding in a group with Allison and Flavia Oliveira, who punctured and ultimately finished 13th. For three women to stay together well into the race isn’t necessarily common in gravel.
“I was in a good group with Lauren and Flavia, we all made it over first climb together,” Allison said. “We were in a fast group, with some guys driving that pace. At the peak, we were probably 30 people. Flavia flatted badly on a descent around mile 70. Lauren was pushing the pace on all the climbs. There was another guy that was also pushing the pace, so the two of them ended up getting away before the aid station at mile 94.”
Allison stopped at that aid station to refill bottles and then chased mostly alone until riding to the finish with a few men. Given her dual-duty as race organizer of the FoCo Fondo as well as elite gravel racer, she was thrilled with her result on the day.
“I really tried to be realistic going into it,” she said. “I end up having to take time off around FoCo Fondo. People get mid-season breaks and my mid-season break is extremely stressful. So I’m always pretty careful coming back trying to make sure I don’t get sick so I’m really happy. It’s three places up from last year, and I had a good ride. This is the rest of the season I’ve been waiting for.
In third, 12 minutes after Allison, was former WorldTour pro and LeadBoat podium finisher Ruth Winder. Winder pipped fourth-place finisher Sarah Max less than half a mile from the finish.
Winder was the only woman on the SBT GRVL podium to have raced the Leadville Trail 100 on Saturday. She told VeloNews that she was skeptical of her ability to finish the gravel race only an hour into it.
“It was a roller coaster, it was so hard and so fast and my body was just like ‘what are you doing to me?’ she said. “I was just so tired from Leadville and I just really felt really terrible at Leadville yesterday too so I didn’t have high expectations.”
Yet Winder eventually found a group to roll with and recovered from her negative mental space — a hallmark experience in racing gravel.
“Then I think I had the most fun I’ve ever had in a gravel race before,” she said.
- Lauren De Crescenzo, 6:48:26
- Whitney Allison, 7:01:43
- Ruth Winder, 7:13:28
- Sarah Max, 7:13:53
- Alexis Skarda, 7:27:05
- Marisa Boaz, same time
- Nicole Steinmetz, 7:34:55
- Leah Emaus, 7:35:51
- Sarah Hill, 7:40:18
- Holly Mathews, 7:43:48