SBT GRVL 2021 was a race jam-packed with talent, controversy, and tired legs — some riders coming directly from the Leadville 100 to race another 144 miles, 104 of which are straight-up of gravel, oh and don’t forget the 9,400 feet of elevation gain.
SBT GRVL — How the race unfolded
The men’s and women’s fields were overflowing with possible favorites, for the men’s Ian Boswell (Wahoo Frontiers), Ted King (Velocio), and Peter Stetina (Canyon) looked like a good bet, same with EF Educations Alex Howes. Both Howes and Stetina raced in the Leadville 100 the previous day. For the women, Lauren De Crescenzo (Cinch Cycling) looked to dominate, but Lauren Stephens (TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank), Tiffany Cromwell, and Isabel King were not to be underestimated.
Over the 144 miles of gravel, the climbs softened the fields, and it came down to Stetina, Howes, and Boswell for the final selection of the men. The riders doing everything to stay with each other, the final came down to an unlikely sprint finish with Howes emerging victorious with a time of 6:19:44.
In the women’s field, De Crescenzo crossed the line with no competitors in sight and only a half-hour later than the trio including Howes, with a time of 6:45:36. The next female finisher, Stephens, crossed the line ten minutes later. The victory has sparked a debate of fairness in the world of gravel racing and possibly separating the men’s and women’s fields.
But — we’re not here to discuss that. We’re here to talk bikes and see what these riders piloted and trusted over 144 miles of SBT GRVL.
Lauren De Crescenzo’s Colnago G3X
First up is the women’s winner Lauren De Crescenzo and her gravel shredding Colnago G3X. De Crescenzo rides a 49 cm (small) frame with 120mm Zipp Service Course Stem and 40cm SL-70 bar. SRAM Force Etap AXS takes care of the shifting, and for those curious, De Crescenzo ran a 10-33T 12 spd cassette paired with a 48/35 tooth combo for the SBT hills.
As for wheels, De Crescenzo G3X rolls on Knight TLA35s, a nice mixture of aero advantage and lightweight spring. The Knight TLA35 rims are laced to DT-Swiss 180 center lock hubs for the killer/dependable and super light build. De Crescenzo’s Knight wheels roll on Rene Herse 700 x 44 Snoqualmie Pass tires (34 psi front, 39 psi rear) with TC Tire Endurance Casing and Muc-Off sealant.
De Crescenzo goes with the popular Supacaz Super Sticky tape on the bars and the Specialized Power saddle for touchpoints.
Frameset: Colnago G3X
Frame size: 49s
Bike weight: unknown
Brake/shift levers: SRAM Force Etap AXS
Front derailleur: SRAM Force Etap AXS
Rear derailleur: SRAM Force Etap AXS short cage length.
Front brake: SRAM Force Flat Mount
Rear brake: SRAM Force Flat Mount
Crankset: SRAM Force AXS Crankset 172.5 48/35 tooth
Cassette: SRAM Red AXS 10-33
Chain: SRAM Red AXS Hot melt wax treatment
Wheelset: Knight TLA35 with Dt Swiss 180 hubs
Tyres (plus inserts if fitted): Rene Herse 700C x 44 Snoqualmie Pass TC Tire Endurance Casing
Sealant: Muc Off
Cockpit: Zipp Service Course 120mm Stem/ 40cm SL-70 Bar
Tape/grips: Supacaz Super Sticky
Saddle: Specialized Power saddle
Seatpost: Colnago G3x
Bottle cages: Arundle Mandible
Computer: Wahoo Bolt
Rider height: 5’10”
Rider weight: 138
Tyre pressures: 34 front, 39 rear
Saddleheight (from centre of bottom bracket): 70.4 cm
Tip of saddle nose to handlebars (at centre): 56 cm
Any other key kit or equipment choices (e.g. shoes, special bottles etc.): Cinch Elite Castelli San Remo skinsuit, Limar helmet
Tiffany Cromwell’s Canyon Grail CF SLX
Next is Tiffany Cromwell and her small but mighty Canyon Grail CF SLX. Cromwell rode the XXS in the Grail and opted for a super lightweight build for the day’s climbing. The bike is a full SRAM Red eTap AXS 1x build with SRAM Red eTap AXS XPLR rear and abroad 10-44 XPLR cassette.
Cromwell went with Zipp 303s for the day’s adventures and Schwalbe G-One Bite tires. We found the Zipps light and fast in our reviews, and it comes as no surprise that Cromwell would choose them for race day.
The Schwalbe G-One Bite tires offer more grip than the Schwalbe G-One R gravel, but suffer on the tramac. I’m curious why Cromwell went with one over the other.
Isabel King’s Super-Orange Canyon Grail CF SLX
Last but not least is Isabel King and her super orange Canyon Grail CF SLX. The Grail was a popular choice for the comfort and mix of aero it provides with the unique double bar. King’s Grail ran a full SRAM Force eTap AXS groupset. She was prepared for the 9,400 feet of elevation gain—King’s bike was equipped with 46/33T chainrings, paired with a 10/36 12-spd cassette.
For wheels, King’s Grail rolled on DT-Swiss GRC 1400 paired with Panaracer GravelKing 38 SS+ tires at 31 psi both front and rear. King rides the Fizik Argo Tempo saddle, a super popular choice for men and women. The Fizik Argo is fitted to Canyons shock-absorbing seat post; the S15 VCLS 2.0 CF, which looks strikingly like the Ergon Seatpost.
Frameset: Canyon Grail CF SLX (orange, obvi)
Frame size: Small
Bike weight: 8.44kg
Brake/shift levers: SRAM Force
Front derailleur: SRAM Force
Rear derailleur: SRAM Force
Front brake: SRAM Force
Rear brake: SRAM Force
Crankset: 170mm cranks
Cassette: 46/33 front, 10/36 12-Speed back
Chain: SRAM Force
Wheelset: DT Swiss GRC 1400
Tyres (plus inserts if fitted): Panaracer GravelKing 38 SS+ (as Amy Charity suggested)
Sealant: Orange Sealed
Cockpit: Grail double handlebar extravaganza
Tape/grips: Canyon tape
Pedals: Shimano XTR
Saddle: Fizik Argo Tempo
Seatpost: Canyon S15 VCLS 2.0 CF
Bottle cages: Canyon SF
Computer: (hard question..) I will use my Garmin 530 Edge.
Other accessories: QUARQ power meter
Rider height: 5’8”
Rider weight: 60 kg
Tyre pressures: 31psi
Saddle height (from centre of bottom bracket): 71.4cm
Tip of saddle nose to handlebars (at centre): 57.5cm
Any other key kit or equipment choices (e.g. shoes, special bottles etc.): Orange KASK protone helmet, orange KOO Spectro sunnies, crazy orange kit (undecided on which one)