Last year, the UCI decided to stage the first ever UCI Gravel World Championships, in 2022.
This first edition will be organised at a time when the Strade Bianche (UCI WorldTour and UCI Women’s WorldTour events) and gravel races, born in the US Midwest some fifteen years ago, are growing in popularity worldwide.
The first UCI Gravel World Championships will take place in Veneto (Italy) this weekend. The Women Elite race will be held on Saturday on a flat and fast 140km course while the Men Elite will tackle a longer 194km race on Sunday, over the same course as their female counterparts with the addition of two 27km laps. The races will start in Vicenza and finish in nearby Cittadella.
Riders in the Amateur and Masters categories can race together with the professionals, starting in later waves, all battling for a UCI World title in their respective age groups (19-34, 35-39 and then going up per five years until the oldest rider at the start). All the women, as well as the men in the age groups over 50, will race on Saturday, while men in the age groups 19 to 49 start behind the Men Elite on Sunday, completing one of the two additional laps at the end for a total of 167km.
556 riders representing 39 countries have registered for this first edition.
In the Women Elite category on Saturday, French multi-talent Pauline Ferrand-Prévot will try to win another UCI World title, with Italian Elisa Longo Borghini also keen to claim the rainbow jersey.
In the Men Elite on Sunday, we see a mixture of talents from the different disciplines at the start with Mathieu Van der Poel (NED) who has won major races in several specialities next to former mountain bike marathon UCI World Champion Alban Lakata (AUT) and roadies Peter Sagan (SVK), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ), U23 UCI World Champion Yevgeniy Fedorov (KAZ), Magnus Cort Nielsen (DEN), Zdeněk Štybar (CZE), Davide Ballerini (ITA), Daniel Oss (ITA), Lilian Calmejane (FRA) and Alessandro De Marchi (ITA)…
All these champions will battle with the gravel specialists who have shone during the 2022 UCI Gravel World Series.
The course has a technical and challenging first 20 kilometres with a steep uphill at the start, but the majority of the race is flat and fast. The last kilometre is also technical and will suit explosive riders as they head to the finish in the walled medieval city of Cittadella.