When Colorado's Lauren De Crescenzo decided to start racing gravel last year, she did so on a borrowed bike. After all, what would a former professional road racer need a gravel or cyclocross bike for?
At last year's Crusher in the Tushar, she borrowed a Scott Addict from DNA Pro Cycling team co-owner Alex Kim and crushed the Tushar en route to an impressive win and comeback from a devastating 2016 injury.
After that experience and then racing Rebecca's Private Idaho, De Crescenzo decided to start a second life in bike racing as a gravel racer. This year, she has done the full circuit, finishing 5th at the Land Run 100 and 6th at the Belgian Waffle Ride and landing in the Top 10 of the Groadio Power Rankings. At the beginning of June, De Crescenzo was in Emporia getting set to take on her first Dirty Kanza.
Now a legit gravel racer, De Crescenzo also got a legit gravel bike for 2019. Well, a kind of legit gravel bike.
De Crescenzo's bike this year has been a Cannondale SuperX. Although officially a cyclocross bike, the wide clearance and Out Front geometry of the SuperX makes it a popular choice for gravel. How popular? It was SuperX2 in winning the 2018 Dirty Kanza 200.
I took a look at De Crescenzo's SuperX on DK200 Eve and chatted with the former road racer about what it is like to embrace her inner off-road side.
Lauren De Crescenzo's Cannondale SuperX Gravel Bike
De Crescenzo was one of several riders hoping to bring home a DK200 title on a Cannondale SuperX at the beginning of the month. Ted King was back on a new, red model this year, the EF Education First riders rode the frame and the Aevolo Cycling squad that included Lance Haidet, Gage Hecht and Cade Bickmore was also on the cyclocross platform.
We had heard rumors that someone might be on the new Topstone Carbon from Cannondale, but at the Dirty Kanza, all the riders were feeling Super. When I spoke with De Crescenzo on DK Eve, she hinted the new bike could be coming soon for her and her DNA Pro Cycling teammates. "We're going to get our new bikes after DK, like a week from now. I'm not sure what they are, it's going to be a surprise," she said. [spoiler alert: the new bikes will be the Topstone Carbon]
The carbon SuperX is a popular choice as a gravel bike thanks to the slack front of the Out Front geometry and plenty of room for tires in the 38-40mm range most riders choose for the Dirty Kanza. Part of that tire clearance is accomplished with Cannondale's Asymmetric Integration that moves the drivetrain out by 6mm. Wheels, such as the ones De Crescenzo ran, need to be redished 6mm to the left to fit the offset stays.
De Crescenzo's frame is from the 2019 model year, which Cannondale is billing as the third generation of the design revamped in 2017. Although the bike has been used for plenty of gravel, Cannondale has kept the design relatively stripped down and has not added features such as rack mounts or mounts for a top tube bag.
The Hangar 15 bike shop in Utah builds the DNA Pro Cycling's team bikes. The colorway of De Crescenzo's bike is that of the current Ultegra build, and like Amanda Nauman, Sarah Max and Erica Mueller, she opted for a 2x drivetrain that was, in her case, similar to the stock build.
De Crescenzo swapped in a Rotor INpower crank with gravel-style 48/32t Rotor DM Round Chainrings. Unlike the other women, she kept things traditional with an R8000 mechanical front derailleur.
In the back, De Crescenzo ran an Ultegra R8000 derailleur with an 11-32t cassette. She did not opt for the newish RX800 clutch-based option available at the Ultegra level. She did use Dura-Ace R9120 shift/brake levers, however.
"It's perfect for gravel because you don't need that many gears," she said about the setup. "It's really hard to do road time trials on this setup though. I did one on this ’cross bike and I got second. I couldn't pull off the W on a ’cross bike at that."
Tire choice for Dirty Kanza brought something new for De Crescenzo's bike. "My teammate told me it was a good idea to run 38 or 42mm tires," she said. "We had 32s earlier, but I contacted Panaracer and they were able to get 38s. I did my first ride on them today. I've only ever ridden up to 32mm wide."
She ran the 700c x 38mm Panaracer GravelKing SKs with the + casing. Mat Stephens also ran the + casing, although in blue, and De Crescenzo left a color coordination opportunity on the table by not running the green treads.
She attached them to relatively aero Metron 40 SL Disc carbon tubeless clinchers.
With talk of aero bars all the rage at DK, De Crescenzo had to get aero in different ways. By choice, yes, but also by necessity.
"I thought about it, but I didn't want to be that person with aero bars on a ’cross bike.," she said. "Plus, I can't fit them anyway. I don't have the option. The handlebar is supposed to be aero-er because it's flat. Hopefully I'm not in the wind too much."
Her handlebar was an FSA K-Wing AGX carbon bar that has a raised, aero profile. Bright green Arundel tape kept things matchy-matchy with the rest of the frameset.
De Crescenzo showed me her bike on Friday afternoon after a brief DK Eve shakeout ride. She had her bike nearly ready to go for Saturday, with an Arundel saddle bag and two water bottles from team partner Ascend Nutrition.
Unlike other the riders behind some of the other bike profiles we have done, De Crescenzo's 2019 DK200 story does not have the happiest of endings. She crashed and broke her collarbone early in the race when someone went down in front of her. We wish her well on the road to recovery and have no doubt we will see her back on the gravel scene on her new Topstone Carbon soon enough.
For more on De Crescenzo's bike, see the photo gallery and specs below.