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The names of 60 athletes were announced today as selections for the inaugural Life Time 2022 Life Time Grand Prix series, which will include Unbound Gravel as one of three gravel events and Leadville Trail 100 MTB as one of the three mountain bike races. 

The series will be contested by 30 women and 30 men for an equally-split prize purse of $250,000, paid to the top 10 riders with the most points accumulated from five of the six races. First place will earn $25,000, second place will earn $20,000, third place will receive $16,000, and so forth. Three events—Crusher in the Tushar, Chequamegon MTB Festival, Sea Otter Classic—offer individual event purses, which will also be available to the Grand Prix series participants.

Among the unexpected names to appear on the women’s rosters were three-time US road Olympian and two-time time trial World Champion Amber Neben, who called the series “a fun post-Olympic challenge” and recently-retired US road cyclist Ruth Winder. For the men, Canadian road cyclist Rob Britton, who also retired this past season, made the list along with American Ashton Lambie, who broke the individual pursuit world record on the track three times.

Ashton Lambie, who is from the hotbed of gravel racing in Nebraska, said, “I’ve been racing gravel on and off for several years, and love the community and opportunity to inspire riders of all levels to take on new challenges.”

Organisers made a surprise decision to increase the number of invitation-only spots from 40 total to 60 total, keeping a balanced field for men and women. 

“We were overwhelmed with the responses from over 200 applicants for the inaugural Life Time Grand Prix,” said Kimo Seymour, president of Events and Media at Life Time. “The selection process was incredibly challenging, and ultimately we decided to increase from 40 to 60 total riders. We want to send our sincere thanks to all the athletes who applied and congratulate those that have been selected. Our intent was not only to establish a competitive field, but also a group of athletes that will be great advocates for the growth of professional cycling in North America.”

Among the top names on the women’s list are cyclo-cross rider Rebecca Fahringer, pro mountain bike racers and Olympians Erin Huck and Lea Davison, and accomplished gravel riders Rose Grant, Kaysee Armstrong and Amity Rockwell.

“I feel like this is everything I have been building towards in my life over the last seven or so years, since I first got it in my head I wanted to race bicycles. I wish to do everything in my power to keep growing, keep elevating the sport and its wonderful humans, and take a close personal role in shaping endurance off-road cycling into an equitable and profitable sport in America,” Rockwell said in the press statement.

On the men’s side, top gravel contenders include Peter Stetina, Colin Strickland, Laurens Ten Dam, Adam Roberge and Ben King who will be joined by versatile athletes such as Alex Howes, Lachlan Morton and many others.

Stetina said he was pleased to be part of the series, ““…to grow off-road racing in the USA, to help promote the series and the effort behind it, to fight for truly professional worthy prize money, and to be a part of this inaugural effort.”

Two gravel regulars noticeably missing from the women’s list were Unbound Gravel champions Lauren De Crescenzo (Cinch Cycling), who won the 200-mile race, and Lauren Stephens (TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank), the 100-mile champion. Both still have road schedules for their trade teams to balance with gravel racing.

“I think what Life Time is doing is great, but the series doesn’t align with my personal goals. Next year, my primary objective is to be the best gravel racer I can be, ready to defend my titles at Unbound, SBT and Gravel Worlds,” De Crescenzo told Cycling News. “I still have a few road objectives including TT Nationals. So I think at this point in my career, I want to focus 100 per cent on my road and gravel dreams.”

The six-race series begins in Monterey, California on April 9 with the new Fuego 100k cross-country mountain bike race that is part of Life Time Sea Otter Classic, and will conclude on October 22 in Bentonville, Arkansas with the second-edition of the Life Time Big Sugar Gravel.

2022 Life Time Grand Prix Series lineup:

Elite women

  • Whitney Allison, 33, Fort Collins, Colo.
  • Kaysee Armstrong, 31, Knoxville, Tenn. 
  • Lea Davison, 38, Jericho, Vt.
  • Evelyn Dong, 36, Park City, Utah
  • Rebecca Fahringer, 32, Bend, Ore.
  • Maude Farrell, 30, Mill Valley, Calif.
  • Helena Gilbert-Snyder, 22, El Cerrito, Calif.
  • Sofia Gomez Villafane, 27, Heber City, Utah
  • Rose Grant, 39, Columbia Falls, Mont.
  • Erin Huck, 40, Boulder, Colo.
  • Isabel King, 30, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Kristen Legan, 36, Longmont, Colo.
  • Rach McBride, 42, Vancouver, Canada
  • Angela Naeth, 39, South Easton, Mass.
  • Katerina Nash, 44, Emeryville, Calif.
  • Amanda Nauman, 32, Lake Forest, Calif.
  • Amber Neben, 46, Lake Forest, Calif.
  • Emily Joy Newsom, 38, Fort Worth, Texas
  • Flavia Oliveira-Parks, 40, Castro Valley, Calif.
  • Hannah Otto, 26, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Paige Peters, 32, Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • Kathy Pruitt, 38, Saratoga, Calif.
  • Amity Rockwell, 28, San Francisco, Calif.
  • Melisa Rollins, 26, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Hannah Shell, 30, Boulder, Colo.
  • Alexis Skarda, 32, Grand Junction, Colo.
  • Haley Hunter Smith, 28, Uxbridge, Ontario
  • Sarah Sturm, 32, Durango, Colo.
  • Moriah Wilson, 25, Mill Valley, Calif.
  • Ruth Winder, 28, Boulder, Colo.

Elite men

  • Eddie Anderson, 23, Richmond, Va.
  • Josh Berry, 31, Tucson, Ariz.
  • Jeremiah Bishop, 45, Harrisonburg, Va.
  • John Borstlemann, 30, Lincoln, Neb.
  • Rob Britton, 37, Victoria, British Columbia
  • Stephan Davoust, 26, Durango, Colo.
  • TJ Eisenhart, 27, Ivins, Utah
  • Russell Finsterwald, 30, Colorado Springs, Colo.
  • Howard Grotts, 28, Missoula, Mont.
  • Lance Haidet, 23, San Luis Obispo, Calif.
  • Alex Howes, 33, Nederland, Colo.
  • Dylan Johnson, 26, Brevard, N.C.
  • John Keller, 24, Boulder, Colo.
  • Ted King, 38, Richmond, Vt.
  • Andrew L’Esperance, 30, Halifax, N.S.
  • Ashton Lambie, 30, Lincoln, Neb
  • Bradyn Lange, 22, Austin, Texas
  • Taylor Lideen, 31, Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Payson McElveen, 28, Durango, Colo.
  • Lachlan Morton, 29, Girona, Spain
  • Logan Owen, 26, Bremerton, Wash.
  • Cole Paton, 24, Durango, Colo.
  • Kiel Reijnen, 35, Bainbridge Island, Wash. 
  • Adam Roberge, 24,  Prévost, Québec
  • Peter Stetina, 34, Santa Rosa, Calif.
  • Colin Strickland, 35, Austin, Texas
  • Keegan Swenson, 27, Heber City, Utah
  • Laurens Ten Dam, 41, Oudorp, Netherlands
  • Alexey Vermeulen, 26, Pinckney, Mich.
  • Alex Wild, 29, San Jose, Calif.
SOURCE: CyclingNews   (go to source)
AUTHOR: Cycling News
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