UCI Gravel World Championships 2022, October 8-9, Italy

Didn't really know where I should post this, or if at all. There are MTB and cyclo-cross sections of the forum, but it doesn't belong there as well. In a way it's closer to road racing and something like Strade Bianche one day races.

So mostly I created this thread:
  • so we can maybe get a look at what this gravel thing really is, I myself haven't yet seen a gravel race to be honest
  • because so many road cyclists are taking part in the world champs races
  • and because it will be broadcast on Eruosport/GCN, so there will be actual coverage of the race
So with that said, let's see if this gravel is actually a thing, or a gimmick.






Notable riders:
  • Men: Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) is back in action after his ill-fated expedition to the Road Worlds in Wollongong. Other marquee names in action in Italy include Peter Sagan (Slovakia), Niki Terpstra (Netherlands), Nathan Haas (Australia), Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium) and Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic). Other notable men include those who have competed on gravel in the U.S.: Australia’s Lachlan Morton and Freddy Ovett, South African Matt Beers, and Dutch riders Jasper Ockeloen and Unbound champ Ivar Slik
  • Women: Notable names from other disciplines in the women’s event include current XCO, XCC, and XCM world champion Pauline Ferrand Prévot, former short track world champ Sina Frei, and Unbound champ Sofia Gomez Villafañe, who will be racing for Argentina. WorldTour pros Tiffany Cromwell, and Letizia Borghesi and Barbara Guarischi will race for Australia and Italy, respectively
Live video stream available on Eurosport/GCN.

Cyclingnews says:

"For one thing, the route is, by most accounts, rather more in keeping with the chalk roads of Strade Bianche than the rockier terrain on offer on the North American gravel scene. If gravel bikes emerged as a means of tackling a wider range of surfaces than a conventional road or mountain bike allowed, then this Worlds leans rather closer to the road end of the spectrum – hence the cluster of WorldTour riders tempted to line out here.
...
The rules, meanwhile, allow the use of any kind of bike – gravel, road, cyclo-cross or mountain bike – provided that it weighs at least 6.8kg, and there are no restrictions on tyre width. Wheel changes are permitted at feed zones, but bike changes are not allowed: riders must finish aboard the same frame on which they started. "


Velonews says:
"Elite women, women’s age group, and men’s 50+ categories will race on Saturday, October 8 on a 140-kilometer course with 69 percent gravel and 700 meters of elevation gain.
On Sunday, elite men and under-49 age group categories race on the same route, with the addition of a 25-kilometer final circuit raced once by amateurs and twice by pros."



Event site:
 
Unfortunately profiles leave much to be desired. I know it's gravel so the flat profile probably doesn't mean no racing, I'm hoping it's similar to cobbled races in this regard, that it can generation action without climbs.

Women profile:



Men profile:



Map (women's race is without the final loops):

 
I don't see it on GCN.
It's definitely on my Eurosport player schedule, so I assumed it would be on GCN as well, since they're like the same thing nowadays. Maybe ask them on Twitter.



Also according to this article:

Eurosport and GCN+ commentator Daniel Lloyd revealed on social media Wednesday the late-hour addition to the broadcasters busy weekend.
“On top of Il Lombardia, Romandie and round 1 of the UCI CX World Cup this weekend on GCN+ & Eurosport, you’ll also be able to watch live coverage of the inaugural UCI Gravel World Champs (women’s Sat, men’s Sun) and Filippo Ganna’s hour record attempt on Sat evening,” he wrote on Twitter.
Lloyd added that the exact locations of where the races will be broadcast are still to be finalized, but he expected it to be available to all subscribers except in France and Scandinavia.
 
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"We don’t want to do 200 miles, that’s too long. It should be more or less four or five hours. I wouldn’t say short, but not extreme like the U.S. races because you filter out a lot of leisure riders which we want to have as part of the Series,” Vervecken told Cycling Weekly.
And this perhaps what makes this UCI World Championships most unusual: the pros and amateurs will be competing side-by-side.

 
I don't really get why anyone gives a crap about this sport at this juncture. It's mostly a bunch of riders who can't compete in the other disciplines. MVDP is riding? It's going to be a slaughter.

If the fad lasts long enough, it will have a good field and a parcours which makes some sense. Feels like ultimate frisbee in the 90s. The dudes who couldn't make the football (or futbol) team getting together for some good fun. Which is great, but not worthy of a WC.
 
As already said, a pretty poor route; very little climbing, and very little in the way of any technical features. It's basically a road race on gravel, which is what gravel is NOT about. A missed opportunity. It's typical UCI.....
Saying that, the UK Championship in Norfolk the other week was similarly uninspiring - flat & non technical......and attracted a few road racers.

I hope a rider with an off-road background wins....
 
So for those who have watched some gravel races, some questions:
  • do they race similar to road races, like a breakaway and peloton?
  • do races typically end up in solo winners or bunch sprints, and how big are the bunches in the end?
  • is there a lot of team riding for others, as in domestiques leading out riders?
  • do they ride similar bikes, or are there a variety of tires and frame types?
  • is there a caravan of support vehicles like in road races? I've read that bike changes aren't allowed?
  • i've heard some articles being critical about TT bars and that some people have them and others don't?
  • are there race radios?
 
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Reactions: Sandisfan
I don't really get why anyone gives a crap about this sport at this juncture. It's mostly a bunch of riders who can't compete in the other disciplines. MVDP is riding? It's going to be a slaughter.

If the fad lasts long enough, it will have a good field and a parcours which makes some sense. Feels like ultimate frisbee in the 90s. The dudes who couldn't make the football (or futbol) team getting together for some good fun. Which is great, but not worthy of a WC.
It looks a helluva lot more fun that most road racing.
 
I actually like the idea of having an off-road championship with proper long distance racing, since both CX and XC are relatively short races. However the flat course and seemingly easy gravel is a bit of a shame. Let's also hope for some more clear rules in the future about things like aerobars.
 
Reactions: Sandisfan
"We don’t want to do 200 miles, that’s too long. It should be more or less four or five hours. I wouldn’t say short, but not extreme like the U.S. races because you filter out a lot of leisure riders which we want to have as part of the Series,” Vervecken told Cycling Weekly.
And this perhaps what makes this UCI World Championships most unusual: the pros and amateurs will be competing side-by-side.

That's just typical UCI propaganda bogus. Thanks to UCI's usual incompetence, 95% of the actual gravel incrowd couldn't give a damn about these World Championships. I've only seen Ivar Slik and Adam Roberge thus far, might be one or two more but the startlist is a mess. In order to qualify, you either had to score points in the World Series (which are in countries like Sweden, Poland and the freaking Philippines), or get a joker from your national association (which are meant for World Tour / Pro riders). The latter is quite problematic, because every country only gets 20 spots. Yes, America gets the same amount of participants as Vatican City.

Now, the actual world class gravel riders, like the phenomenal Keegan Swenson, either can't be bothered to do those low tier World Series races or just don't have the time. These guys, who race on gravel 24/7 and are probably the sole reason this event even exists, can't qualify through the biggest races on earth like Unbound or Leadville. But hey, this random road guy asked his association to hand him a joker, and it's all good.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY

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