The UCI continues its uphill battle to get into gravel racing, with lukewarm enthusiasm and participation from riders at the sixth Gravel World Series race that took place in Sweden on Saturday.
After the Jingle GX race in the USA, was cancelled by the organizer “because it had been unclear if and when a UCI [Gravel] World Championship would occur,” the UCI hoped for a strong restart of the Gravel World Championship qualifying series at Gravel, Grit ‘n Grind in Sweden.
While the event attracted twice as many riders, 258, as the dismal turnout at the Highlands Gravel Classic in June, it fell well short of participation numbers at the first two races in the series, UCI Bongabon Gravel in the Philippines and UCI SEVEN in Australia.
German Svenja Betz (IBTC) won the 121 kilometer women’s gravel race in 3:52:08 to earn a starting position at the 2022 UCI Gravel World Championships. Mika Soderstrom was next at 3:52:43 and Finja Smekal finished third in 4:00:07.
The Dane Jasper Ockeloen (TREK) took top honors for the men, completing the race in 3:22:37. Piotr Havik took second place 10 seconds later in 3:22:47 and Simen Nordahl Svendsen earned third place in 3:24:04. Adam Blazevik, who won UCI Seven, finished seventh overall at 3:25:13, 1 second in front of former Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana rider Nicholas Roche.
Gravel riders finishing in the top 25% of their age/gender category at a one of the qualifying races may participate in the UCI Gravel World Championships.
The low participation at recent UCI Gravel World Series races might be due to the uncertainty and lack of information about the 2022 UCI Gravel World Championships announced last September. With the world championships scheduled to take place in less than seven weeks (8-9 October), the only information released so far is a general location – Veneto region of Northeastern, Italy.
Complete UCI Gravel, Grit ‘n Grind world championship qualifying results HERE.
Photos: UCI Grit, Gravel ‘n Grind