Looks like some roadie stars including MVDP will be there. Anyone know which ‘privateers’ are taking place?
Per Keegan’s comments on the podcast a little while ago, I don’t think the American privateer community is taking it very seriously. For better or worse, Unbound is the (un)official world championship of gravel in their mind. Given the audience their sponsors want to reach, I think the business side agrees.
Stetina won’t be there, Keegan won’t be there, I know Alexey Vermuellen is riding the BWR in Michigan this weekend. The UCI held a qualifying event in Arkansas earlier this year and hardly anyone showed up
If the true road racing superstars show up (MvdP, Sagan, etc.) they are going to win it if they take it seriously. Not sure if they will or not … to me that is kind of the curiosity. There was a lot of speculation on this board as to whether Sagan would win the Unbound 100 this year, but I knew he was there on a sponsorship junket and he wasn’t going to mix it up. I turned out to be right as he rode at the front until the first feed zone and then made the rest of the race a sightseeing tour with his buddy Daniel Oss. However, since he will be wearing the Slovakian colors instead of his sponsor’s … I’m curious if he is approaching this differently. I’m truly 50/50 on it.
I have mixed feelings about the UCI barging in on gravel. On one hand … more bikes, more racing = more better. On the other hand, nothing about gravel was struggling nor had any need for any sort of sanctioning body.
Also, I primarily race gravel … and in my opinion, gravel isn’t very different from road racing, if at all. It’s not like MTB or Cx, which are different enough that they rise to the level of being their own discipline. Gravel started in the U.S. because roads were getting dangerous and Cx bikes made it possible for cyclists to find safety and long miles on choppy roads with wide tires. Gravel racing rose in popularity because road races were/are nearly impossible to get permitted here, but the absence of driver inconvenience on gravel roads + small towns (Emporia, Kansas; Hastings, Michigan, etc.) embraced the boost to the local economies.
TL;DR the organic, grass roots interest in gravel in the U.S. became of interest to sponsors and captured the attention of Americans in the way European road racing never had. In to the scene came former pro Ted King who was the pioneer of the privateer movement, and then the real eye-opener was Colin Strickland who was the first “true” amateur to start beating ex-pros … and, boom, a whole new profession and economy was born.
Gravel racing couldn’t have come from Europe, due to the much more advanced cycling infrastructure, the cultural acceptance/interest in cycling and the plethora of road racing opportunities … there was no need to find solace on chopped up, rocky dirt roads (with all due respect to Belgian cobbles).
Having the UCI Gravel worlds in Europe is disingenuous. I don’t much get into the “spirit of gravel” debate, which is amorphous and subjective. But I think the American privateers regard it for what it is: a bit of a made up event that has no real impact on their profession.
Now … if someone shows up in Emporia next year wearing rainbow stripes?? That may change the game.
Stepping down off my soapbox after having given way more than my 2c
Sure but Ivar Slik showed up to unbound and won it this year. He’s a largely unknown (to USA) European roadie. US gravel races won’t attract high level roadies because the events are in the middle of the World tour calendar.
I hope to see gravel raced like a classics race. Nothing is more exciting than watching a bunch of tough competitors fight it out through some decisive climbs. UCI will bring some quality TV Coverage to the discipline as well, similar to what’s been happening in US cyclocross
Truly a disappointment with the difference in distance for men’s and women’s races. That’s not how gravel racing works.
I’m excited to cheer on Sofía Gomez-Villafañe! She’s had a tough second half of the season, but the fitness that helped her win Cape Epic and Unbound didn’t disappear. Hoping she’s in a spot to be able to express that fitness!
Huh. Was funnier on Instagram
Anyone know the men and women line up for USA?
You can say what you want, but the level of competition at this first world championship will be much higher than any other gravel race (even Unbound) so far. With the top roadies (MVDP, Sagan, Lutsenko, Van Avermaet…), but also some world class marathon mountainbikers and cyclocross riders, even the European gravel scene will have little chance to win.
The gravel hype is growing in Europe and many brands (Canyon, Vittoria, Trek, BMC) attach great importance to this championship.
I agree it’s a shame the first worlds are not in the US, but if it was the case it would be probably very difficult to attract those big names like Matthieu or Pauline FP. In the end, those are the ones generating tons of publicity for this event. So I understand the decision of the UCI to promote gravel focusing on Europe rather than the US where gravel is already big.
Howes is no longer going.
There were also nearly 50 US age group riders to qualify.
Suuuuper stoked over the roster for the women’s field. Looking forward to seeing Sofia vs LDC again.
Honestly, I’m not surprised at the difference in distance - can’t have someone drop a uterus on course
But what I am surprised about - the course is so short. The women are racing 86.5 miles with only 2100ft of elevation. That would be a dream day in the saddle for me
I was a bit surprised at the elevation profile. I wonder what they expect the avg mph to be for each field.
It’s gotta be just soooo fast. The top Unbound 100 women were just under 19.5 mph - with more than 2x the elevation and aaaaalllll that mud.
I went back and re-read this thread from a year ago…
It’s interesting to see many things people worried about (eg all kinds of UCI gravel bike restrictions) not becoming reality, and many things people hoped for (eg top athletes showing up) that did become reality.
First of all, I will not post once the race starts after inadvertently posting spoilers from UCI Road Worlds…
The course looks like it will be raced as road course. Sofia Gomez Villafane, racing for Argentina, has no team. It will be interesting to see if it is raced like a road race with team tactics, or more like a gravel event. The start list on Velo News shows 48 women as compared to 138 men. I am looking forward to PFP head to head against ELB.
Ivar Slik and MVDP are on the same squad. Is the Unbound Mens Champ there to work for MVDP? A few of men’s gravel Illuminati have made the trip.
As much as I didn’t like the UCI getting in this game, there are some story lines to follow.
I wasn’t arguing against this. In fact I think we make similar points … I don’t think US gravel races really care if high level roadies show up.
Likely, yes. I think it’s a really big stretch to assume that Ivar Slik would ever be a team leader when MvDP is racing.
We all need to really start being realistic about the quality of the field in the US gravel racing scene when it comes to top global cycling talent. It’s starting to get a bit silly on here.
I disagree. The events are not actively seeking their participation perhaps, but they would love it if they did want to take part. It would bring increased exposure, likely improved sponsorship opportunity, even improved validation of their event being an attractive and competitive race. As much as the large gravel events are super cool and grassrootsy, they are at the end of the day in fact, races. Every race organizer wants to see the competitiveness of their race go up.