GU Energy Labs Marketing Manager for Cycling Yuri Hauswald won the 2015 Dirty Kanza last weekend in dramatic fashion, grinding out a 200-mile victory by unleashing a finishing-chute charge that will live in cycling memories for years to come.
The veteran cyclist won by one second on a course described as one of the toughest gravel races in the United States. The day was particularly challenging, as pre-race rains made the going a mudfest throughout. “I wasn’t the fastest or the strongest during the race,” said Hauswald, who turns 45 next week. “It was about determination, a strong mindset, and not having any mechanicals.”
The Dirty Kanza, located in east-central Kansas, has long been a premier race on the U.S. calendar, and helped spark explosive growth in the gravel riding phenomenon. “I love the event,” said Hauswald. “I know the folks who organize it, and did their training camp, so I felt really comfortable with the course and what was going to be expected of us.” The wet and muddy conditions meant that Hauswald’s winning time of 13:01:17 was roughly an hour slower than some previous years, but it also set in motion one of the most memorable and brutal finishes of any 200-mile race. Hauswald made contact with Michael Sencenbaugh about two miles from the finish, “I wasn’t sure he was the 200-mile leader, but when I pulled alongside and checked his race number, he was definitely surprised. I was too – and realized with a gut punch that it’d be a sprint finish.” The race quickly turned tactical, with the two leaders swapping places until, as Hauswald puts it, he “wound up the steam donkey” and surged ahead in the final 150 yards – to secure the win by one second over Sencenbaugh.
The Dirty Kanza win comes just eleven days after Hauswald and other GU associates and employees conducted a full tour of each stage of the Tour of California.
“I think doing the Tour of California helped, but for sure it was a thin recovery margin,” he said. “What it really did was make me comfortable riding back-to-back big days and setting up a big base that I called on for the Dirty Kanza. And it really, really helped me dial in my nutrition.”
Hauswald’s nutrition plan, meticulously tested and prepared, nearly came undone early in the race, “I was running through the first mud section when my shoulder bashed against my bottle of Roctane Drink, which was doubled-up on Drink – so I lost about 350 calories right there.”
He was able to push on, relying on 18 gels – a mixed combination of Salted Caramel GU Energy Gel and Sea Salt Chocolate Roctane Energy Gel. “Those are my favorites right there,” said Hauswald. “I hit those heavily, and supplemented it with a hydration pack filled with water and GU Hydration Tabs and about six or seven little peanut butter and honey sandwiches during the day.”
Hauswald, a resident of Petaluma, California, also continued the testing that GU has been conducting for a new capsule product. “Yeah, we can’t talk about it too much, but it’s a new formula we’ve been working on to help alleviate muscle fatigue and muscle damage. It works, man – I think it’s close to going on the market.”
Rebecca Rusch, a multiple World Champion in mountain biking and a former three-time winner of the Dirty Kanza, said, “Yuri is a beast. He works really, really hard and showed that if you apply yourself, it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can crush it.” Rusch, another GU-sponsored athlete, would finish third in the women’s division.
In addition to his work for and support from GU Energy Labs, Hauswald is sponsored by Giro Capo, Kaenon, Kitsbow and Marin Bikes.
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