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

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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.
XC Marathon races can be about 4-5 hours, depending on the route....


I wonder what tyre sizes they're using; those on the Grizl ridden by MvdP & Vermeersch don't look massive.
 
XC Marathon races can be about 4-5 hours, depending on the route....


I wonder what tyre sizes they're using; those on the Grizl ridden by MvdP & Vermeersch don't look massive.
A better pic of his bike, now it's not a given he will ride this same combo in the race. Looks like Vittoria Terreno Dry tires, not sure what size, probably 35mm or something.
Also, road pedals and shoes, so that's unusual as well.

 
So for those who have watched some gravel races, some questions:
  • do they race similar to road races, like a breakaway and peloton? Depends on the course. Usually the front group gets smaller and smaller, and then other small groups form behind.
  • do races typically end up in solo winners or bunch sprints, and how big are the bunches in the end? Depends on the course. Usually small (2-5) groups, and frequently solo.
  • is there a lot of team riding for others, as in domestiques leading out riders? Not a lot of 'team riding' because the teams are small (some teams are one person). Some 'discussion' with men pacing women though.
  • do they ride similar bikes, or are there a variety of tires and frame types? Pretty similar, but some variety based on sponsorship and/or personal preference. Tire choice is somewhat dictated by the day.
  • is there a caravan of support vehicles like in road races? I've read that bike changes aren't allowed? Not enough $$ to have team cars, let alone someone to drive it.
  • i've heard some articles being critical about TT bars and that some people have them and others don't? there were a lot of bar extensions, but it seems that there are less and less in the pro group.
  • are there race radios? There isn't anyone to talk to.
 
XC Marathon races can be about 4-5 hours, depending on the route....


I wonder what tyre sizes they're using; those on the Grizl ridden by MvdP & Vermeersch don't look massive.
Ok but are those included in the World Championships? I think its just XCO/XCC events but I am not the most knowledgable about these off-road races so I might be missing something.
 
Of course it's a gimmick and judging by the lack of many of the dedicated gravel types on the startlist it might be a bit premature to set up a World Championships, but it gets plenty of people a chance to get out and do some endurance riding without the risks attached of open road riding or the extent of technical requirements and challenges of CX or mountainbike, so it certainly has a role to play, but to date I've found it hard to shake the feeling of it being a sort of off-road road racing, or a massively simplified XCO MTB, that is good for participation but does tend to cater to the perception raised above that it's kind of a non-specific middle-ground for riders who either haven't found a niche or haven't made the cut in any one major discipline, and part of its appeal at the moment is how unregulated it is, so if the UCI are going to be stepping in and creating a formalised circuit, they run the risk of strangling the very thing that makes it appealing.

I kind of think that if they're going to go that route, they should have gone with the real length element of it, though, and made it like a 200-mile race for sure. I feel like gravel in the world of professional cycling at least should fulfil a similar kind of role to what Worldloppet does in cross-country skiing. Worldloppet has a mixture of professional and amateur competitors, men and women alike, all competing on the same course at the same time (with the elite women given a headstart, so the best women often hitch a ride for part of the course with the elite men when they are reeled in, adding a further tactical element which also increases the possibility of earlier attacks), along courses which are often narrower than those used on the main cross-country calendar (as almost all races are in Classic and often trails can be only a couple of tracks wide), and are usually of the kind of length which is as long as it gets on the World Cup or even longer (topping out of course at the 90km Vasaloppet), but the counter to that is that Worldloppet courses are often much flatter, with a couple of smaller obstacles or signature hills, rather than the constant ups and downs of regular World Cup courses.

If gravel as a discipline went along similar lines, so it had a top level circuit with some pro teams specialising in it plus occasional ringers coming in from pro circuits in other disciplines (like seeing Kowalczyk or Sundby rock up to Birkebeinerrennet) and amateurs taking place alongside, on real distance courses that gave it a point of differentiation and helped give it some uniqueness as a discipline, that would be grand; the comparatively easy height profile and lack of super-tough technical MTB-style challenges makes it more accessible to beginners and the endurance required to contest over the long distance will beget a new specialist type that is not really catered for in current pro cycling.
 
A better pic of his bike, now it's not a given he will ride this same combo in the race. Looks like Vittoria Terreno Dry tires, not sure what size, probably 35mm or something.
Also, road pedals and shoes, so that's unusual as well.

So apparently this was just the training bike (or the one from Vermeersch ) and he'll be racing on Grizl. Here it is:

 
XC Marathon races can be about 4-5 hours, depending on the route....


I wonder what tyre sizes they're using; those on the Grizl ridden by MvdP & Vermeersch don't look massive.
XC Marathon is just sooo much more appealing than XC to me. I've also competed before. Seeing all the guys with the single ring in the front look perplex when I rode past them like it was nothing on an old triple chainring when we were on a long 2% false flat downhill was priceless.
 
I saw XC Marathon described as 'proper' MTB-ing; long days in the saddle riding forest trails, single track, natural obstacles, etc In fact, the old school XC World Cup was like this; there are some videos on YouTube of the Grundig World Cup....

If MvdP races on what is a road bike (Endurace) then it's not really a gravel race is it?


I just hope that the coverage is better than the standard for MTB XCM Worlds.
It surely can't be any worse?
 

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