In a lackluster announcement from the UCI Management Committee meeting in Arzon, France this week, UCI President David Lappartient announced the first two Gravel World Championships will occur 9 October 2022 and 1 October 2023 in the Northeast Veneto region of Italy, but did not offer a specific host city, race venue, course, schedule or organizer.
In other words, it is still work in process, but the UCI needed to say something.
The UCI announced the introduction of the UCI Gravel World Series and Gravel World Championships back in September 2021, but has struggled mightily to win over gravel event organizers, and specifically, to attract one willing to host the world championships.
In an interview with Cycling Weekly, the UCI’s point man for the both the Gravel World Series and Gran Fondo World Series, Erwin Vervecken, said he does not expect the Gravel World Championships to be an overnight success, ”It’s a new concept, we still have to prove ourselves, it will take a few years, probably three to five. It just takes time.”
Vervecken only signed up twelve organizers to be part of the initial Gravel World Series, which allows amateur and professional riders to qualify for the world championships – now only 100 days away.
The lengthy delay in announcing the series and world championships has resulted in many gravel racers making other plans.
For this year, most of the top gravel racers are committed to riding high profile events this summer and fall, including the $250,000 Life Time Gravel Series, SBTGRVL, British King’s Cup National Championships, Gravel Locos Pueblo and the original Gravel Worlds in Nebraska, USA.
Plus, if the UCI hopes to attract top WorldTour road riders like, Niki Terpstra or Peter Sagan, to the Gravel World Championships most of them are already committed to the fall classic Il Lombardia on 8 October.
It seems the UCI’s road to gravel success is unpaved, rough and very bumpy…
Photos: UCI GWS, ASO