The art of gravel racing


Bring on the wide-section tires... a nice weather

Friday was a unique race, the first professional gravel race on European soil, the Serenissmima Gravel. Thirty-four riders start at the Adriatic Coast in Lido di Jesolo, Italy. The parcours of 132 kilometers containing eleven unpaved sections of 88.5 kilometers in total. No team cars or outside support allowed, riders would have to carry out any repairs for themselves. Credit goes to former professional and organizer,  Filippo Pozzato who is making this gravel race as an experiment a sort of barometer for the potential of future gravel events. 

"It's clear that a bike race is still a bike race, and we can't take out competition or pressure, but if we can have a dialogue with the riders, then maybe they'll be more carefree and enjoy themselves more. It maybe seems too simple or easy to say these things, and it's certainly not that I'm going to change the world, but I would like to loosen things up a little bit, so that it's more human, so to speak.

One of my dreams is to have an Italian WorldTour team, and I'm working a bit towards that by organizing races that could bring sponsors into cycling by stoking their passion for it. It's hard to go and ask for 20 million euros to start a team if you haven't got experience behind it. And these days, if you want to bring big companies back into cycling sponsorship, I think you have to go about it differently to before.

The riders are happy to race, but some teams don't have the material at this time of the year. It's a historically difficult moment for getting material, but we're happy to start with this now then build over the next two or three years."

-Filippo Pozzato, 2006 Milan San-Remo champion 

"In the long term, I don't think it's going to be the style of how gravel plays out. But right now, gravel is a space where there are no rules, it's evolving and it can be what it wants. I think it's awesome that guys like Pozzato are putting on events and trying to explore the space of gravel and see what it can mean for amateurs, professionals and I think even most importantly for the bike industry on the whole."

-Nathan Haas. Cofidis, third place.

"It is fantastic to conclude the season with a podium, especially at the end of a unique experience like this. It was a difficult race, but we really had fun. I'm looking forward to participate to more gravel races in the future!"

-Riccardo Minali. Intermarché Wanty Grobert. Second place.

"It was a difficult race with a technical parcours, very narrow roads and so many corners. We had a plan to attack closer to the finish, but in a moment after another corner I found myself in front with a small gap to the group, so I decided to keep on pushing knowing that I had my teammates behind me in the peloton. Well, I think it was one of the toughest races in my life - 3.5 hours of 100% full gas, but I am really happy I finished it with a victory!"

-Alexey Lutsenko. Astana Prmier Tech. 

At the helm: Filippo Pozzato

A good start for gravel racing: Minali edges out Haas for second

Serenissmima Gravel Results