Seymour said the decision to limit it to 40 racers was driven by Life Time’s commitment to providing opportunities for all riders.
“Four out of these six events have lotteries,” Seymour said. “We couldn’t just carve out hundreds of slots for pros. It wouldn’t be fair for the thousands who are tying to get in through lotteries. We want to be fair to the everyday athletes.”
The Grand Prix participants will be selected based on a range of criteria, including their race resume, their interest in the Life Time Grand Prix, and how the rider is helping to grow cycling in the U.S. Seymour said that the most important qualifier is how the rider represents the sport at large.
“We’re going to be looking for are people who are really great ambassadors of the sport right now,” he said. “We want people that are going be great ambassadors for the series and Life Time and those events.”
That may be the worst sentence I have ever read….we want to provide opportunities for all riders by putting a limit on the riders eligible.
That said, their intentions become clearer later….because of the issue with lotteries, in order to keep it fair, they do need to put a limit on how many riders will get a guaranteed spot in each race.
But I think they should still leave open the possibility of an true privateer to get into the payday, assuming they can get into enough races. It is one of the beautiful aspects of gravel, IMO….you just need to show up on race day and show your stuff. No categories, no upgrades, no nonsense….if you can prove you belong, you get to ride with the big boys and girls.
What’s really odd is that they later doubled it to twice as many eligible riders.
I do get their point, but I also agree with yours. It’s awesome that you can go to an event like Gravel Locos and spend the weekend riding and hanging out with the best of the best. As an average Joe, I don’t have any problem with a corral type system on the day of the ride, but sometimes it sucks for the pros. Look what happened to Sofia at Cape Epic.
I hope this doesn’t come across as bitter but am I the only one who cares very little whether pros or former pros races these events? I’m not saying it isn’t cool when they show up and just crush the courses with some unreal time. But in the end that’s not why I’m there and I suspect that’s not why most amateurs are there. I’m likely at some gravel event because it’s a super challenging course which I want to see if I can handle it, the scenery or course is super fun and cool or all my friends are there or some combination of that stuff.
I guess my question is does growing the sport of gravel for pros add value? The sport is growing for amateurs just fine.
Interesting read…but not certain I agree 100% with his takes.
First, he makes it sound like an athlete’s social media presence was the sole driver for inclusion, when I am pretty sure that is not the case. It also kinda sounded like he almost intentionally flamed out in the application process to just prove a point.
Second, Kabush has a pretty long history as a bit of a “gatekeeper”…see his rants about aerobars in gravel. So some of what he is posting just strikes me as more of the same…
As noted in my post above, I get why they needed to have an application process…so they could ensure all the riders got in to all the events. On the other hand, I would be OK if it was open to everyone and if you didn’t get in to a particular through a lottery, qualifying or sponsor’s exemption, so be it. But that is ultimately Lifetime’s call in terms of how they want to handle it. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer, or even a “better” answer. But they should be open to reviewing the process before next year to see what worked and what didn’t.
I agree 100% with his take on testing…putting this much money in the pot is going to incentivize some to start (continue?) doping. Add in the $50K prize purse for BWR CA and that only adds fuel to the fire.
The two ideas are not mutually exclusive…for some people, it is both. What percentage of the riders that is, I have no idea…but based on the reaction I see form riders to the pros at different events, I’d say it is larger than you may think. Some really love the idea of starting in the same filed as the big boys / girls and it adds value to their whole experience…or just seeing them in an expo before the event and chatting with them.
I don’t disagree it can add to the experience. I guess what bothers me is now that the pros are involved in these gravel events discussions about money and male domestiques for female pros start seeping into the gravel scene. In the end it doesn’t matter much for me as there are still all types of gravel events out there from totally casual to bigger and competitive. Unbound is the biggest I’ve done and the experience is fun.
I think your opinion is justified in terms of what revs your engine, but I think that Pro’s are integral in the growth and legitimisation of the sport (particularly Gravel).
Look at Ironman as an example as it is almost identical to the long Gravel stuff.
When Macca and Crowie showed up at Kona, they immediately brought a new level of interest. A lot of would be racers are a lot more drawn to the pointiest level than watching the feel good videos of participants at the rear. I used to hate the coverage on the IM show that was not on the Pro’s, but I can see the huge value in terms of inspiring a different segment.
I’d love to see it be open to everyone. I’d hate to see a payout come down to a race where one rider got in due to sponsor connections where another rider missed out. This way is probably less messy.
Ultimately since so many seem to like the idea of lining up with the pros, maybe we should adopt the idea of the pros having to sit up until midnight and scramble to register in <30 seconds or await lotto results like the amateurs?
I assume you are referring to the XC course. If so, I would not classify it as very technical. But also, my two races there are the reason I bought a full suspension XC bike to replace my HT. I raced one year on an Epic FS, and this year on a Les HT. I averaged nearly the same watts, but I was far faster on the FS bike, even though it was about 5 pounds heavier (plus the water bottle weight)!
It will be entertaining, not sure if non fans will follow it much. All series really have to work on “hyping” (ie USAcrits) to get any traction. In the long run, if this is here to stay it creates a season for this new category (gravel+mellow mtb).
Payson had a neat podcast pre-line up announcement :
This statement is true of any bike race (outside of le Tour)…at least here in the US.
If anyone thinks this is going to bring a wider overall sports audience, I would suggest they don’t understand the proposition. This is about getting a larger role in the growing world of gravel events, and using their stable of events to “muscle out” the UCI before they can start getting traction in the US.
I understand what your saying but in reality, there almost zero chance a rider outside the top 30 would be able to win or place high enough for money. These riders have won pretty much everything important over the past couple of years.