Home > Other Fun Stuff > Advocacy & Industry News > News

Unbound Gravel Race Bans Aerobars in Elite Racing Update

Unbound Gravel bans Aerobars for Elite racing, men
8
Support us! Bikerumor may earn a small commission from affiliate links in this article. Learn More

This will be a shakeup of gravel racing in 2023… starting this year UNBOUND Gravel has banned “any kind” of aerobars or bar extensions from the elite field of pro racers in the name of rider safety. That’s quite notable as all four eilte winners in 2022 won racing with aerobars. Elite racers will also get new starting slots. But don’t worry amateurs, Unbound organizers have your comfort in mind too..

Unbound Gravel shuffles 200-mile Elite starts

Unbound Gravel bans Aerobars for Elite racing, womwn
all photos c. Life Time & Wilier

The headliner of Life Time’s shakeup of elite gravel racing was actually that the Unbound 200 distance will newly separate a staggered start for the Elite Men & Elite Women – 2 minutes apart, and 10 minutes ahead of amateurs for everyone’s safety. The idea is to get the fastest ultra-competitive riders out on the gravel roads first, so the 4000 amateurs can have the more classic experience like in those early DK200 days. And those pro riders who are racing for their job don’t get tangled up with overly-ambitious amateurs in the early miles.

Unbound Gravel bans Aerobars for Elite racing, winning elite woman

Life Time also explains that the staggered starts will help them provide better & more fair media coverage for both the men & women, and make it easier to see which riders are really racing against each other.

Elite Aerobar Racing Ban

Unbound Gravel bans Aerobars for Elite racing, muddy elite men

The aerobar ban was almost treated as a minor side issue, aimed also at improving racer safety “by mitigating the risk for crashing at high speeds”. Aerobars are certainly a contentious topic in gravel racing, as the aero advantage is real at race pace but also a much-needed alternative hand/arm position to alleviate fatigue and even nerve damage over long and exceptionally long events.

Unbound Gravel bans Aerobars for Elite racing

Yet, it is also clear that pretty much all mass start racing events ban them, as you really don’t want unfamiliar riders next to you in a bunch with their hands away from the brakes in a position that also compromises their ability to steer.

Unbound Gravel bans Aerobars for Elite racing, amateurs OK

Important to note though, amateur & age-group racers are still free to use aerobars, across everything from the 25-mile through 350-mile courses. Only the most popular 100- & 200-mile races officially have Pro categories for both women and men. And while the XL features Open categories where elites & professionals can race, aerobars will still be permitted for this 350-mile course.

Unbound Gravel bans Aerobars for Elite racing, Juniors

The rationale is that these amateur and longer distance races are contested by more spread out fields, and at a generally lower pace, so there is less of a danger of riders tucked into a compromised aero position in fast-moving groups.

Want to know more? Kimo Seymour, President of Life Time Events and Media and Kristi Mohn, Unbound Marketing Manager, sat down with Ian Boswell on his Breakfast with Boz podcast to chat more about the updates.

FYI for those interested in racing, the Unbound 2023 lottery opens today, January 5th and runs through the 15th.

UnboundGravel.com

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

8 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Grrrrrvl
Grrrrrvl
28 days ago

Not having aerobars seen among the field makes gravel events cooler, everyone knows that.

Grillis
Grillis
28 days ago

While I recognize the safety issue around aerobars, has it actually been an issue in this event (or similar events) to date?

Seraph
Seraph
28 days ago
Reply to  Grillis

Yeah I call bullshit on this one. All of the pro winners had aero bars, and I don’t recall any reports of crashes worsened because of the accessories in question.

Hamjam
Hamjam
28 days ago

In the beginning, long beards and aero bars were essential to adventure cycling.

Micky
Micky
28 days ago
Reply to  Hamjam

Too true. Now it’s been hijacked by the UCI and the shaved leg crowd

Deputy Dawg
Deputy Dawg
27 days ago

Wouldn’t it make more sense to ban them from the theoretically less experienced amateur crowd, and continue allowing them for the theoretically more skilled pros?

Might this have an effect on the ability to set new course records?

Does the UCI ever make anything better than it was previously?!

These are my questions three………….

mud
mud
27 days ago
Reply to  Deputy Dawg

The UCI has nothing to do with this race

Mr. P
26 days ago

Aerobars used to win a gravel event is all the “soul” one needs to know about this race. 200 miles of flat straight lines. fun. Sad this has become gravel’s crowning event.

Subscribe Now

Sign up to receive BikeRumor content direct to your inbox.

Subscribe Now

Sign up to receive BikeRumor content direct to your inbox.