Gravel (Race) Controversy?

I’m trying to take an objective viewpoint and actually understand this unwritten code of gravel racing…

So it’s a race and they compete to win but everyone has to do their fair share of turns in the front group. At what point is it okay for that to break down - the final sprint? are solo attacks the legit way to do it? If you are genuinely cooked and can barely pull is that frowned upon?

On the other hand if this stuff is genuinely managed across the board in most races and you’re the only one sitting on like this then just don’t be a dick. It would be really annoying if everyone is chipping in and riding together whilst one guy just sits on and takes it way too seriously. Also do people actually know who wins gravel races? I know of some riders but the sponsorship seems more based on social media personality than palmares (prerequisite of being competitive of course).

I don’t know, as @TooManyDogs mentions these gravel pros probably just need another hobby to distract them from all this nonsense drama

Dylan said he was using this as a dress rehearsal for unbound one one of his podcasts, so he didn’t run aero bars even though they were legal in this race to get his triceps ready for a lot of time in an aero position without them.


This is just road racing, people complain about other riders not pulling in road racing all the time and it’s just part of the game. Pretending to be cooked and not pulling is also a tactic as old as bike racing. Why would this be any different :person_shrugging:


The controversy in the past about water stops made more sense because the person that complained, and then apologized, was dealing with a lot outside of racing.

This just seems like racing to me. If Ian was unhappy then he should have dropped them, or stopped pulling as well.

Anyway, big congrats to Adam and frankly to Dylan. Top 10 and 3rd American is a great result in a strong field.


It has come a lot more than just Stetina at SBT last year….someone above referenced Roberge at the 2021 Gravel Locos.

Pretty disappointed in Boswell, TBH….he didn’t come into the gravel until 2020, so (like Stetina) he isn’t an OG gravel guy. This kind of gatekeeping is just silly.


It continues to surprise me that guys that used to ride in the world tour are perplexed and bothered by race tactics. Adam gets crap all the time for not pulling enough. If the lead group doesn’t like it, they have two options. Either drop him, if you can or stop working yourself and see how it works out. People that are paid to win races are going to do things to try and win, they are not going out there to get a workout in and impress the other riders with their hero pulls.


Here is what I don’t understand: why doesn’t anyone combat these racing tactics with racing tactics? It seems like gravel is “let’s all go hard to get a lead group and then keep going hard and see what happens”. Then people get angry if someone in the group doesn’t go as hard as others.

If I were in a group where someone wasn’t pulling, I would stop taking hard pulls. Make them decide if they want to let other groups catch us. If I pull them the entire time I am not going to win anyway. You don’t have to give a free ride to finish.


Sounds like a bunch of whining from somebody who wasn’t strong enough to win.

Group tactics are part of mass start racing. If you have to stop for water, you risk somebody who doesn’t have to stop making a move. If you pull too much too early, you’re in a weaker position late in the race. And with more money on the line, and more people making a living at gravel racing, this should be expected.


Yes, pretty much.

Like marathons (running, not XC), most entrants are racing themselves, or their buddies, or racing for charity, or whatever else. But, the guys and gals at the pointy end are making a living at it, and should be expected to do everything within the rules to win. That includes drafting, skipping pulls, making a break-away, and pit stop strategy.

If a competitor lied about their planned pit strategy, that’s not against the rules. But, I would expect other racers to never believe them in the future and assume the “worst” - so doing so might help at a single race, but then hurt later as nobody wants to work with you any more.

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most people only see results at the line and that is becoming less an indication of how was strong out on course


I actually think most people only see excuses and drama on social media and the results actually matter very little


Gravel racing: you’re either winning or whining.


Ever since it became the Lifetime Grand Prix and all these ex-pro riders got into the mix, mo’ money, mo’ problems. I did Belgian Waffle and it’s insane how many riders have their own social media team following them around. It’s like the top 50 riders were all filming some kind of mini doc it seemed.


Lol, it’s a race if you aren’t breaking the rules then you can do anything to win. Ian isn’t even racing as a pro anymore, he’s got a full time job at Wahoo, this is just a hobby. Do you think he shouldered his share of the work when he was on Sky when he didn’t have to?

“Hey Movistar, it looks like you’re doing a lot of work up here. Do you need help? I know we’re racing against each other but it wouldn’t be very sportsman like for you to do more than me.”


From what I heard at the race, Ian was doing some hard attacks and was the most aggressive in the group. If that’s true, it sounds like he tried to break things up, but wasn’t able to (and then cried about it). There were only a few spots on the course that were really selective and the most selective spot was only ~50 miles in. The leaders were still a group of 17 at the last checkpoint, it’s hard to break a group that size up unless you have some course features to help.

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Speaking of deceit and tactics - it happens at the amateur level as well. I ended up in a group of 4 for the last ~90 minutes of the 110m race at gravel locos. The 3 guys I was with were teammates from Mexico and only one spoke English. I was really hoping for an age group win or at least podium, so asked what division they were in. The guy who spoke english (very good english) told me they weren’t in my age group. He even went on to say “you are probably an hour ahead of 2nd place in your division”. You can see where this is going…, but they seemed so nice. I proceed to do a bunch of long pulls to ensure we don’t get caught. I ended up beating all of them on a long uphill tailwind drag to the finish only to find out the guy who came in right behind me was in my age group. I’m kind of torn on the lies (especially in a glorified charity ride). It just seems kind of petty and I’d never do it, but it’s racing. It did make it feel better that I beat that guy to win the age group and also grab the last spot in the top 10 (so yeah, I can be petty too). If I had let him beat me, it would have been my fault for racing stupidly, no whining. If I had sponsorships and income on the line in a similar situation, I like to think I’d feel the same way, but that’s not a burden I carry.


If in these events, its almost like you have to think your racing everyone and you want to beat them. If you would have just taken equal pulls and someone catches from behind you would be fresher to go with them.

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Yeah, it’s a challenge. Racing against everyone approach would result in implosion for me. If I gave every thing I had on Saturday, I could have stayed in the lead group longer, but burned every match doing it. I’m usually wishing for a group to peel off quicker, but it always requires 15-45 minutes in the red for things to sort themselves out (depending on course, wind, etc.). It’s pointless for me to try to stay with the pros and really strong guys, but I need to wait for that 2nd tier of riders to get dropped so I can ride with them. Against folks in my age group (when there are age groups), I’ll go deeper to ensure I don’t let them go up the road without me. It’s pretty easy at the local level where you know who the contenders are, but there is no way to know at these bigger races other than ballparking age based on appearance.

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Yes. It seems this is exactly what they’re wanting. They want fitness tests, not races and it’s dumb. I’ve been a big “Spirit of Gravel” guy, but at this point, with the amount of money on the line, people are here to win races. As long as they aren’t breaking the rules, I see no issue with anyone racing however they want.


Peter Stetina.
Ian Boswell.

Interesting that the biggest whiners (so far) of the gravel scene are former world tour pros.

My 2c — when these guys showed up to their first gravel races with world tour fitness they were able to boss the field and do as they pleased … which is the privilege of superior fitness. But as their world tour level fitness waned, or as others caught up (or both) they start saying “no fair” or “spirit of gravel” nonsense. And they wish things could be the way they were when they didn’t have to train so hard to win … or as hard as they did when they were WT pros.

All of this is such a bad look.

The comment about “the wildflower bloom” is such a saccharine, gravel-y thing to say :joy:

Pull. Don’t pull. Stop at aid stations. Wear a hydration pack. Whatever. This is all stupid.


Ian should have Adam on his podcast and they can hash it out!