Unbound Gravel, one of the gravel world’s most well-known events, has announced changes to its 2023 race format and equipment rules. The race format and rule changes are the first since the inaugural edition in 2006 and the event organiser, Life Time, says they've been made to improve rider safety.
The first change is the separation of elite and amateur riders at the start line and the staggering of their start times. This means that elite women and men will start at different times, easing the start line chaos, which has become crazier each year as the event has grown. This year, there are going to be over 4,000 riders lining up to participate in the gravel event in Kansas, US.
The 200-mile Unbound Gravel will kick off with the elite men, followed two minutes later by the elite women. The rest of the participants will start 10 minutes after the elite men. The other distances (100, 50 and 25 miles) will continue to be raced in one category and with mass starts
The elite 200-mile riders are now for the first time prohibited from using aero bars, whereas the amateurs are still permitted to use them. The organisers explained that this year's rule and regulation changes have been made with the increased competitive side of the event in mind.
“Elite riders might be the least unsafe using aero bars but they don’t need them. The reason we decided not to rule out aero bars for everyone is that 98 per cent of riders are out there to finish. If that’s a tool they need to finish before the cutoff, then great, we don’t want to take that away from everyone else because we’re trying to police what happens in the elite field,” the organisers said, talking to Velonews.
With the changes, the organisers of Unbound Gravel hope to achieve a more enjoyable gravel event for everyone, and also offer better visibility for riders across the board. The staggered elite rider start will give better visibility for the women and added marshalling will increase road safety for riders of all levels.
The Unbound Gravel takes place on June 5th and the registration lottery opens tomorrow, 5 January 2023.
[Cover photo by Linda Guerrett/Unbound Gravel]
You might also like: