2023 UCI Gravel Worlds: Courses Revealed
After a ‘rift’ with last year organisers, the 2023 UCI Gravel Worlds have moved.
This year the UCI Gravel Worlds will start in Lago Le Bandie in Treviso and finish in Pieve di Soligo, 23km further north. Racing will take place over the weekend of 7-8 October and will feature the elite categories as well as the age-related championships. Last year’s organiser, PP Sports, had its contract revoked only a few weeks before the event. The new organisers, Pedali di Marca have a history of organising Mtb and gran fondos, but information is scant at the moment. A map of the route has been produced, but the UCI website has little information.
After last year’s first edition attracted some negative comments about the course, this year promises to offer more of a challenge. While the race is ‘only’ 169km it has more climbing than the inaugural edition. The course will take riders on a “dynamic blend of gravel and paved roads, encompassing extensive flat stretches and challenging inclines.” The Men’s Elite race covers 169km, while the Women’s Elite race is 140km. Age group participants, racing over varying distances, will share the roads on the same days.
On Saturday the women’s elite and male 50+ categories will compete, but over varying distances. Elite women, women under 50 and men between 49-65 will ride a 140km circuit. This starts with a lap around Le Bandie lake; venue of the 2008 UCI ‘Cross World Championships. This is followed by a 30km flat section, mostly on gravel before the first hills. Riders will cross the finish line for the first time after completing 46km.
A second loop heads north-east and features more road, but also more climbing and a second passing of the finish line. The final loop heads west, starting with 30k of short gravel and tarmac over flat terrain. The riders will then hit the final 25km which features two climbs. The last of these is particularly steep and the summit is only five kilometres from the finish line in Pieve di Soligo. The 140km course includes an elevation gain of 1660m.
For men over 65 and women over 50, the second loop is omitted, with the riders heading directly to the third loop. For this groups the total distance is 100km with an elevation gain of 1030m.
On Sunday, the elite men and male age group categories 19-49 will also set off at intervals. The race format mirrors that of Saturday, commencing with the same 46km loop towards Pieve di Soligo.
The second, north-eastern, loop is extended by 10km, with a longer circuit around Lago di Lago and the addition of the demanding Ca’ del Poggio climb after 85km. The third loop is longer, mainly on flat sections, but with the same two challenging climbs as on Saturday. Sunday’s total distance is 169km with an elevation gain of 1890m.
Gravel Worlds carping!
Will the new parcours see a ‘real’ gravel rider winning? Last year’s winners Gianni Vermeersch and Pauline Ferrand-Prévot were not regarded as gravel riders by many US commentators, despite their undoubted palmarès as cyclists. So this year the US are sending a large team, keen to claim the title of what they regard as their sport. Perhaps if a US rider wins our American cousins will finally accept the UCI running a Gravel Worlds?