Gravel is presented in society with the celebration of its first World Cup

This is the question that all cycling fans have been asking themselves lately. What is gravel? In theory, a hybrid between road and mountain bike disciplines, but, this modality born more than a decade ago in the United States is much more than that in practice. And it is that the adrenaline that it gives off hooks those who try it from the first moment, including Ibon Zugasti (49 years old, Lezo), Spanish youtuber and influencer of reference in the cycling community, who started practicing it three weeks ago until his steps have led him to a historic event: the first edition of the Gravel World Championships. “Gravel is a movement, a way of riding a bike. In The United States began to put road bikes off asphalt, per track, and they ended up adapting them. It is the most versatile type of bike and at a popular level it will succeed. You have the feeling of the road, but away from the cars”, explains Ibon to AS from veneto (Italy), venue of this first world edition of gravel, on the playful origin that promoted this activity.

Like MTB, which began to consolidate itself in professionalism in the 90s, gravel aspires to the same today after having already celebrated its first appointments of ‘World Series’ regulated by the UCI and to have its own identity as an independent category alongside other disciplines such as BMX or the cyclocross. Much more than just fashion. “Competition gravel is like a long-distance road classic, but combining asphalt with sections of gravel, cobblestone, grass… In addition, the course of the races is not marked. You follow the ‘track’ in your cycle computer that the organizer gives you and if you get lost, you hold on”, says Zugasti about some particularities that gravel brings with it that, however, will not affect so much in this first edition of the World Cup because the route is fully signposted.

Profile of the first edition of the Gravel World Championship: men's event.

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Profile of the first edition of the Gravel World Championship: men’s event.ICU

This, together with the fact that the profile of the test does not present technical difficulties, favors the road professionals who have been encouraged to participate, so that the pure gravel specialists will not be able to use their experience as an advantage. This is how Zugasti analyzes it: “This first gravel World Championship is very ‘road’. It’s going to be a nice World Cup, but the gravel specialists are outraged. Of the 194 km of the route, there are 30 slopes with a bit of unevenness, but the other 160 are flat: bike paths following the basin of a river, parks… There is nothing technical about it. The average speed can be around 40 km/h. Due to the location of the competition, those who come from the road are favored, because there is nothing complicated. In 100 km, there is only 120 meters of accumulated height difference”.

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This scenario makes one thing clear for the race (Eurosport, 2:00 p.m.): Mathieu van der Poel is the top candidate to the rainbow jersey. The Dutchman, who will start with a bike that maintains great essence of the road in search of speed (same handlebars, group of components, pedals…), he has been recognizing the circuit conscientiously for days and has many possibilities of breaking the race on the flat as well as imposing his power in a sprint. Charles Verona, who recently won in his competitive debut in gravel at the Ranxo of the UCI World Series, will be the best Spanish asset of a cast of ‘cart drivers’ with illustrious names such as those of Peter Sagan, Alexey Lutsenko, Magnus Cort, Daniel Oss, Zdenek Stybar, Greg van Avermaet and Miguel Ángel López, among others. Gravel raises the curtain…

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