The very first edition of the European and Belgian gravel championships this weekend in Oud-Heverlee (BEL) was the also the first qualifier event for the 2024 World Championships and biggest event so far in the TREK UCI Gravel World Series with 1667 participant coming from 31 different countries.
The race was broadcasted live on national television and a lot of international channels with 25.000 people watching the race on spot in the beautiful forest of Brabant region south east of the capital city.
The startfield was impressive with a mix of specialists from gravel, cyclcross, mountainbike and road.
In the female race over 131km, a group of 4 broke away on the final local lap with sprinter Lorena Wiebes (NED), cyclocross world champion Fem van Empel (NED), Elena Cecchini (ITA) and Tiffany Cromwell (AUS) battling for victory. Cromwell, not battling for the European title managed to get away in the last uphill to finally win with a small gap to Wiebes taking silver and the European title and van Empel as overall bronze.
The men battling for their titles over 160km or one extra lap saw a big group of 25 breaking away on the big loop. From that group Alex Colman (BEL) got a one minute gap on the second last lap, but it was Jasper Stuyven (BEL) who came back after puncture to close the gap and go over Colman to take a minute gap to the group behind to take the first European title in the men elite. Tim Merlier (BEL) outsprinted Paul Voss (GER) for silver and bronze.