Gravel and cobbled sectors create havoc at Hageland

Sport director Gennady Mikhaylov:

“The race split very early, it started very fast with teams trying to get in the breakaway and also fighting for position for the corners, the gravel sectors and the cobbles. It’s fair to say that it was an explosive start.”

“Andrea, Charles and Declan fought very hard to stay in the bunch, but with around 50 kilometers to go it just split to pieces with maybe only 60/70 riders left in the race. We look ahead to tomorrow now, that will also be a very tough race, but we’re gaining valuable experience here and it’s important to keep learning all the time.”

Declan Irvine:

“I was really down when I dropped off the back, I wanted to go well here in Belgium and stay with the bunch as long as possible. But the level is very high and as soon as we came out of a cobbled or gravel sector the big guys just put the hammer down and we couldn’t stay with that pace.”

“For sure it’s frustrating, but we also need to keep some perspective. It’s our first time at these races and we knew it was going to be very hard, very fast and that we would probably get a kicking and sometimes you need that to help you progress and push you on to the next level.”

— tnn to www.teamnovonordisk.com

Mode gravel – Cycling Team Bingoal-WB

Sean De Bie et ses co-équipiers se sont mis en mode « gravel » dans le cadre de la reconnaissance des routes de Dwars door het Hageland qui se déroulera le 5 juin entre Aarschot et la Citadelle de Diest (Bingoal Cycling Cup). Le parcours de la course est dessiné ce que d’aucuns appellent les « strade bianche flamandes », avec plus de 40 kilomètres de chemins non-goudronnés. Sean De Bie est en forme. Il l’a montré en se classant 2e, de justesse, du récent Tour du Finistère. Ses allergies aux pollens l’ont toutefois contraint à l’abandon aux Boucles de la Mayenne.

Sean De Bie. « La reconnaissance de Dwars door het Hageland s’est bien déroulée. Il faisait chaud et la poussière était bien présente dans les chemins de champ. En principe, il devrait pleuvoir d’ici samedi et donc atténuer cette poussière. Je préférerais personnellement la pluie pour m’éviter une nouvelle allergie aux pollens. Je souffre de cela depuis de nombreuses années. J’ai dû arrêter à cause de ce problème aux récentes Boucles de la Mayenne. Les allergies sont handicapantes dans des efforts longs. Mais je suis en forme, je l’ai montré au Finistère. La météo annoncée samedi me donne confiance. Le parcours du Hageland est technique, ce que j’apprécie. On peut bien s’amuser dans les chemins de terre, à condition que la chance soit là. L’an dernier, j’ai crevé à 3 kilomètres de l’arrivée alors que je pouvais jouer le top 5. En 2018, j’étais à l’avant et j’ai crevé à 20 kilomètres du but. Au Hageland, donc, on peut être le meilleur du peloton et quand même perdre la course. Je suis content de ma condition du moment, j’ai fait un gros travail pour renforcer ma base qui est très large et ça m’est très profitable. Je disputerai le Baloise Belgium Tour après Hageland. Notre équipe peut viser une victoire d’étape. Nous serons très présents, c’est certain. »

Sélection pour Dwars door het Hageland

— eric to www.wbca.be

Robin Carpenter prepares for Unbound Gravel – Rally Cycling

Rally Cycling is heading to Unbound Gravel with Robin Carpenter to take on what is widely regarded as the world’s biggest gravel event on June 5.

We caught up with Carpenter as he prepared for his trip to chat about everything Unbound Gravel, from race aspirations to midway pizza stops. 

This is your first-ever gravel race, how have you prepared?

I’ve been collecting as much experience as I can from other people that I know have done it, but it’s going to be a brand-new experience.

Have you any experience of racing gravel sections in road races?

I’ve done Paris-Tours, Schaal Sels, and Antwerp Port Epic, which is a similar idea but honestly worse than Paris-Tours. There was also one called the Slag om Norg, so I’ve done a couple. I’m not unfamiliar with the concept. I own a gravel bike and I ride dirt all the time, especially in the winter here in San Diego.

Carpenter putting his gravel bike through the paces.

How long has Unbound Gravel been a goal?

Gravel has been taking up a lot more bandwidth of US bike racing interest, so I was curious. I’ve been thinking about doing Unbound for the last couple of years, it’s the Super Bowl of gravel racing. Normally my schedule doesn’t align with it but this year I’ve been able to enter it.

Have you ever raced 200+ miles on dirt?

I’ve never done a race this long, that’s for sure. Everybody that does these races reports that there’s a time when everyone is falling apart at some point. There’s a high intensity in the first couple of hours, so it’s not like everybody is just cruising along. There’s some amount of pacing involved, but if you want to win you have to go with the people who want to race off the front from the start.

How have you modified your training?

I haven’t changed my training much at all. The main goal will just be getting my nutrition right and avoiding mechanicals. But I was on vacation in Hawaii and I rode to the top of one of the volcanoes (Mauna Loa) on the big island and back from the main town in Kona. It was a seven and a half hour, 150-mile ride all on my own, although it was on road, I have to admit. 

What’s your nutrition like on a race like this?

It’s going to be a bit of an experiment for me. I’m used to doing races with a team car and feeders on the side of the road, so food is never really that far away. The special thing about this race is that there’s only two aid stations on the whole route so you have to be strategic about picking up food and drink. I’ve heard people describe the race as an eating contest as much as a pedaling contest.

Like most cyclists, Carpenter will also have a caffeine plan for the race. Likely one that begins with grinding beans in his hotel room at 4 am.

What will you be taking with you on the bike?

I’m going to have hydration packs with pockets I can put food in, and I’ll be swapping those out at the aid stations. I also have room for three water bottles on the bike itself. I’ll have First Endurance EFS in my CamelBak and bottles for sure. I’m thinking about taking some homemade rice cakes on the bike in addition to more easily digestible things like gummies. 

Have you any mid-race snack stops planned? 

On rides like this there always comes a point where you’re sick of eating the same sweet food, it’s called palate fatigue. I’m planning on leaving some really salty savory snack in the second rest area, and in hot races I keep pickle juice around because it helps reset your palate and adds some performance benefits with the electrolytes and vinegar. I’ll also take on something high in carbohydrates like a sandwich or a slice of pizza. If I’m close to the front, I’m not going to eat a slice of pizza though.

What will your tactics be?

I think I’m fit enough to win one of these if everything goes right. I’ll pick out an experienced rider like Ted King who’s won this event a couple of times and try to follow them. I have a friend and former teammate who lives in Kansas called Joe Schmaltz who rides those roads all the time, so he’s a good wheel to follow too. But in the end, I’m out there to learn and have a good time.

What are your targets for the race?

I’ll try to set myself up for success by being with the right people, but you could be out there for 14 hours if things really don’t go your way. So it’ll either feel like a race or a real adventure. 

I’m really excited to see what the gravel roads are about out there. I’ve seen some photos and some of them just look super gnarly. It looks like you’re out in the middle of nowhere which is the goal for a lot of us these days on training rides, to get yourself kind of lost and ride new roads. It would be awesome to get a result but in the end, the goal is to finish the event and finish it strong. I really just want to see what the gravel scene is all about.

To learn more about Unbound Gravel and how to follow along, visit the event preview here.

— Oskar Scarsbrook to rallycycling.com

Robin Carpenter heads to Unbound Gravel – Rally Cycling

Rally Cycling is heading to Unbound Gravel with Robin Carpenter on June 5 to take on what is widely regarded as the world’s biggest gravel event. 

With 200 miles of hard pack gravel, rolling hills, and searing summer heat, Unbound Gravel will take the riders to their limits as they navigate the Kansas Prairie. Such is the difficulty of the race that 2019 champion Colin Strickland’s finish time was just a shade under 10 hours. 

This year’s edition is the first gravel race that Carpenter has ever entered.

“It’s going to be a brand-new experience,” Carpenter said. “It may be my first gravel event but I know to respect the scene and its level of importance.”

The start list is very competitive. 2019 champions Colin Strickland and Amity Rockwell return to defend their respective crowns, as well as a host of WorldTour professionals who will join Carpenter in Kansas.

WorldTour riders Kiel Reijnen and Quinn Simmons (Trek – Segafredo) will be racing, as will Matteo Jorgensen (Movistar Team) and Women’s WorldTeam rider Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon SRAM Racing) and cyclocross talent Rebecca Fahringer. Ex-professionals Ian Boswell, Peter Stetina, Laurens Ten Dam, and Thomas Dekker will also be in attendance at the mass start event.

The race only entered Carpenter’s calendar following an early exit from the team’s recent European campaign. A key race cancellation freed up the San Diegan to return home as a long-time goal came within reach.

I’m out there to learn and have a good time and try to see what the gravel community is all about. This is one of those special events that typically coincides with some big road events but the stars aligned and I’m excited to be on the start line.”

FloBikes will stream the race live starting at 12 pm CT on Saturday, June 5. You can also follow the riders’ progress via the live tracker here.

— Oskar Scarsbrook to rallycycling.com