after completion unbound gravel This weekend’s program, Ineos Grenadiers’ Cameron Wurf Argued that professionalism in the youngest discipline of cycling meant that actively combining road and gravel would in the future be harder, not easier.
38-year-old finished 80th in Australian Unbound Gravel 200 Mile RaceNearly two hours behind winner Ivar Slick on a rainy, mud-slicked course in the Flint Hills of Emporia, Kansas.
While a notable number of former road professionals have switched to gravel full-time with considerable success – Ian Boswell, Peter Stetina, Lawrence Ten Dam – Wurf argued that, after his experience, top road racers tend to “just drop would be difficult to do. In” for a spot of gravel racing.
With the popularity of gravel racing skyrocketing, the question of where the sport is headed and whether it should change in format or character is a regular topic of discussion. As Wurf sees it, the way gravel is becoming more professional makes it akin to an Ironman or triathlon, and the more money starts flowing around the gravel, the harder any crossover will be.
Wurf has successfully combined Road and Ironman, setting records in races like Copenhagen, but says the mix of disciplines isn’t for everyone.
“you’ve seen [road] cyclists go on it [Ironman] And they’ve struggled,” he told reporters, “they’re not playing the game anymore. They didn’t last long because it’s very competitive. Ironman – It’s very similar, it’s a mass participation game with an elite class and people making a very good living. And where money is involved, there is a lot of professionalism.
“So I’ve always said that the WorldTour guys won’t come here and dominate, because these gravel riders, people who specialize in it as the sport gets more professional, will get very good at it and you won’t just go in. can’t be able to.”
Wurf considered that, as he put it, the “odd phenom”, citing Vout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Thomas Pidcock (Inos Grenadiers) or Matthew van der Poel (Alpesin-Fenix) as possible road-racing examples. as will be. , which may be able to make gravel crossover. But they will be able to do so because of their natural versatility and not everyone in the peloton is that talented.
“People with incredible skills and who basically know how to fix a flat tire,” he said with a laugh, “those two prerequisites are knowing how to work on your bike, and I’m sure there are others in it. There’s WorldTour with them too. But if you’re not there, you can come here and maybe have the same experience as me.”
Another discouraging element, he argued, is that if some elements of the gravel race were highly familiar to road-racers, the fame of the riders of the WorldTour before it added to their potential challenges.
“The guys at WorldTour wouldn’t want to come and dive-bomb from a gravel corner, they’d have to deal with that week-to-week in Europe,” Worf told reporters.
“If this [gravel racing] was more like gran fondo [and] Like the more fun element they try to declare, it might be a little different but it isn’t.
“These [gravel] people are very competitive and if European [road-racing] Come on guys, they’ll have a big target on their back.”
For the present, Wurf said he found that the very different racing strategies employed in gravel could make it more unfamiliar to European road-racing professionals and therefore harder to adapt. Again, the longer the two subjects stand together and the higher the level of exposure in the gravel, the greater the division.
With the caveat that he “was only on the front for about 80 kilometres,” Wurf argued, coming out of the unbound gravel, “I think what you see is increasing depth. Probaby first, maybe A few years ago, all you could do was accelerate something and it would probably fall apart very quickly. Whereas now there are still 40-50 people.”
He cited Saturday’s opening mile to support his case, saying, “It involved a tough section, a tough climb, a crosswind and then me and Keegan. [Swenson] There’s a lot going on at the top before it really starts to split.
“But it was a very tough part of the race and it’s a completely different dynamic than what you get in the WorldTour. A bike has a lot of stop-starts, whereas [road] Race it goes someone else and goes someone else.”
As he also points out in Gravel, there’s no team element and “not that if you’re waiting for a teammate who can go on top of you.” But that single racing component is an integral part of gravel racing, which in turn leads to the ‘attack-stop-attack-stop’ element.
“I remember thinking about 20-30 kilometers riding a road bike is much easier because it’s hard, it’s not the start-stop stuff. If I’m honest, even if I had finished from the front, I would have been the same. Speaks.” He concluded.
Where this divergence will lead to gravel and road and where their interactions will take place is difficult to say. But in the short term, Wurf believes, “not everyone”. [from road] will come,” and those who will do faster will be those who know what to expect. But in his view, as the gravel develops, their numbers may, at least as an experimental combination, dwindle.