Gravel (Race) Controversy?

The biggest (only?) similarities are that they tend to be long and bumpy. And they involve drop bar, two wheeled bikes underneath people who think way too much about bicycles.

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Roubaix has a high number of decisive moments, Unbound has like two.

BWR or something with Singletrack would be more akin to Roubaix.

Strickland was “considered” by Vaughters for minimum wage/neo-pro money to be a domestique to help get passed one or two of the decisive moments. (Also, good riddance)

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Honestly, not at all. Other than riding bikes on non-tarmac roads. Roubaix has defining features that separate the field. It’s not just long. Amstel has climbs. Flanders has cobbled climbs. But apart from that, what makes the spring classics what they are are the racers. I know it’s what we have in the US, but the talent of the world tour is a lot of what makes it exciting.

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So do these gravel races. We just don’t hear/know about them because these races for the most part aren’t covered in any where close to the same detail as a spring classic. We get 10 minute rider videos and maybe a half hour recap video from the promoter. There are a ton of these defining features in these races.

Correct. He came up the highway well ahead of the pack. I didn’t realize who he was. I commented to my son that it looks like a late 110 mile finisher was sprinting in ahead of the pros. Then we realized he was the winner lol. I don’t even think the announcer knew who he was as he said nothing as he crossed the line and kept talking about the group coming up the road.


To be fair Sea Otter is two loops of the XC course… but on a gravel bike.

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Part of what makes the classics, the classics, is the tradition, the knowledge and the features. Gravel climbs can be hard, but no way an unbound climb brings the same attitude as Carrefour d’… Full stop.

Part of what makes the classics the classics is the excitement on the side. The specific, repeatable, defining features of the course that people have known, discussed and talked about for 40, 60 or 100 years. And 80-115 full time professionals all doing their job hitting each feature to best benefit their team.

Gravel racing isn’t there. It likely won’t be there in my lifetime. 300 people in an Internet forum for three days after Unbound isn’t the same as 4000 people behind barricades at each and every “important” sector.

I like gravel riding as an activity and if more races were closer to me, I’d try to find one that worked with my schedule, but please stop claiming that Unbound, TransIowa(RIP) , BWR or Barry-Roubaix holds a candle to an actual classic. They aren’t there from a competition standpoint, they aren’t there from a cultural standpoint. They just, plainly, aren’t even comparable.


Somebody put out a recap right after Sea Otter. I thought it was, but maybe it wasn’t a Lifetime production…

There is an inherent problem in televising a gravel race. Can you guess what it is?

Here’s a hint: :laughing:


Strade Bianchi has entered the chat… :wink:


I agree with you…
Remember a few years ago at Cape Epic Nino Schurter got upset and started yelling at Henrique Avancini becuase he wasn’t pulling during the stage. Afterwards Avancini said Nino was NOT the nice guy hey portrayed to be in public .becuase he said some mean things to Avancini during the stage and it upset Avancini… Yes he hurt Avancini’s feelings but really did Nino expect him to help the worlds greatest XC MTBer…

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From a cultural standpoint, from the level of competition they aren’t anywhere close.

But the courses are (or can be) incredibly attritional and selective. The gravel races I do aren’t ones I attend because of the “pros” or the “spirit” or tradition or anything like that.

But, look at the profile of the Barry Roubaix below… see any spots that might be ripe for a selection or an attack? Does it look flat? It’s not the Paterberg or the Trench of Arenberg … and it may only matter to a few thousand people in Michigan every year … but some of those hills have names (truly) … and if the pros raced it, it would be amazing. But they don’t. Which is why I do. And it’s cool. And it’s only 15 years old, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I like it🤘


That’s actually the Barry Roubaix. From two months ago :+1:


I’m not going to pretend that Unbound will ever be PR or Flanders, mainly because the field is totally different. But Unbound isn’t totally featurless. There’s no Arenberg but there is Little Egypt. There’s no Oude Kwaremont but there is Teter Hill, Texaco Hill, The Judge, etc.

I would never watch Unbound. That’s not because of the course though…but because it’s, in reality, amateur racing. I would watch Unbound if it was a World Your race and I bet it would be a pretty damn good race.


As a race that was going to be made for broadcast, I think Leadville remains the best of the LT GP events for that. It’s got a pretty great history for a domestic U.S. race, it has multiple major climbs where the race could break up and decisive moves could happen, gear is always a big discussion and differences in bike setups could be discussed during the broadcase, and there are enough other things that could happen like mechanicals/flats that could add to intrigue. Many years the race is decided on Powerline inbound, but other story lines also unfold like last year when Keegan was gunning for the record. Or Lachlan and Payson flatting early and chasing back. Finsty breaking a wheel and Sofia giving him hers and then walking down Columbine say “not my day”. It would still be a long broadcast, but if I wasn’t racing it I’d be pretty interested in seeing it. As a racer, it is always fun seeing the leaders coming down Columbine and seeing how things are shaping up.


It’s racing. It’s not some group training or group love ride! Recent example at the Giro:

edit: Not sure why the second vid of the same tweet only shows as a link, but it’s must see as well, "I’m not doing :poop:


Great example. The gravel locos hoopla also reminded of the the recent Thibaut Pinot VS Esteban Chavez drama in the Giro. I recall Pinot getting his fair share of criticism for being stronger and racing harder, but tactically less than ‘smart’. In the end, winning is product of strength, tactical smarts and luck.

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I can understand the frustration of the pros when another pro isn’t pulling their weight in the lead group vs. an amateur just trying to hang on for dear life, particularly if the other pro, after saving X watts/energy after not trading pulls for many kilometres then uses those energy savings to go for the win.

I get that tactics come into play, but to me there’s also an element of basic fairness - i.e. share the workload or f**k off out of the lead group. I get that tactics naturally come into play in the last 5 or 10kms when people start playing cat and mouse, but it seems like a big difference when a highly trained professional athlete is wheelsucking for 30, 40, 50km+ whilst the other pros in the group are all trading pulls fairly equally. Just seems like a dog move and I can understand the frustration of the others, because it doesn’t leave it an even playing field at the end of the day.

In his defence they both tried to drop him on the climb and he then spent five minutes clawing his way back up to them. Wtf would he then help them?

Also Bewls co-hosts a fun podcast called the social distance podcast.


The tactics start when the gun fires and the playing field is level to begin. The core concept of mass start bike racing revolves around tactics to shift the playing field to your advantage for the next x hours of racing. Every time you stick your nose in the wind or push the pace should have purpose. The purpose might be to pull for the good of the group to keep a gap or catch a break up the road. It might be to soften up the wheel suckers in a cross wind. It’s not a last 10k thing when the tactics start.