Gravel racing is the new black – for current and former pro roadies.

And Unbound Gravel, formerly Dirty Kanza, has unveiled the blacklist (i.e. start list) for this year’s world famous gravel race in the Flint Hills of Kansas, which takes place Saturday 5 June.

After the race was cancelled last year due to the pandemic, 2700 lucky participants are now chomping at the bit to race the 2021 edition, including 2019 champions Amity Rockwell and Colin Strickland who will try to win back-to-back editions of the 200-mile race.

To pull that off, they will have to defeat a stacked field of challengers – and get lucky.

It’s a race that demands your attention at all times on the 206 mile course. Eat, drink, pedal repeat will be the theme of the day and my goal is to beat the sun before it goes down. Not an easy task!

14 times X-Games BMX Champion and Unbound Gravel Rookie Jamie Bestwick

2017 winner Alison Tetrick is among the headliners on the start list for the Women’s 200-mile race, as are WorldTour roadie Tiffany Cromwell, cyclocrosser Rebecca Fahringer and Rebecca’s Private Idaho gravel race winner Kaysee Armstrong.

Strickland will face-off against an impressive field of WorldTour road racers in the Men’s 200-mile event. 2021 Trek-Segafredo teammates Kiel Reijnen and Quinn Simmons, both from the USA, will be on the start line in peak form after racing in Europe the last few months, as will Movistar’s Matteo Jorgensen, who just arrived back in the USA after finishing the Giro d’Italia in 98th place overall. Rally Cycling’s climbing specialist Robin Carpenter will also start on the front-line and make his gravel racing debut on the 200-mile course.

Former top-tier professional road racers also aiming to dethrone Strickland include Ian Boswell, Peter Stetina, Travis McCabe, Alexey Vermeulen, Thomas Dekker and Laurens Ten Dam – who just won the 150-mile Gravel Loco “warm-up” race in Texas. Other big name riders hoping to grind out a win include Payson McElveen, John Borstelmann, and fourteen time X-Games BMX Champion Jamie Bestwick from the United Kingdom.

If you want to watch all the gritty racing, Unbound Gravel will be broadcast live on FloBikes (subscription required) beginning at noon on Saturday and last about seven hours.

PHOTOS: W. Matthews

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