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Unbound gravel unwound  – A catalogue of mishaps and misadventures

Unbound Gravel is one of those races where it seems inevitable something will go wrong for just about every rider as they traverse the challenging terrain through the Flint Hills of Kansas – just ask winners Lachlan Morton (EF Education EasyPost) and Rosa Klöser (MAAP-Rose), who both had mishaps along the way.

Still, while Kloser managed to fight back from her ill-timed flat and Morton was even grateful in hindsight for a wrong turn that foiled his early attack, others had mishaps, or a number of them, that completely derailed their races. There may not have been the peanut butter mud that destroyed drivetrains like last year, but there were plenty of other issues to contend with over the 203-mile (327km) race.

Many riders who were expected to be right up there in the battle for victory had their chances destroyed, not by tactics, race fitness or preparation, but by a rock kicked up on a fast descent or a crash after either they or a rider alongside was bumped off course by the rough terrain. Unbound is brutal – that’s part of what makes it so special. But it also means that every year there is a long list of riders who have their race ruined by elements that are, at least partly, beyond their control.

It’s a race where the strength of a rider is just part of the picture, so to delve into the stories left untold by the results let us take a look at a catalogue of some of the mishaps and misadventures among those riders who entered with great hope but will now be forced to put those dreams of Unbound glory on ice for another year.

Thijs Zonneveld (31st) – The Dutch rider was ideally placed, out the front in a break with eventual winner Lachlan Morton and second-placed Chad Haga, and then all of a sudden the perfect scenario unravelled. “Everything was spot on today … only that one stone was wrong,” said Zonneveld, who lost prime position with a puncture, on Instagram.

Petr Vakoč (41st) – Last year the former road racer got through the brutal conditions to take the runner-up spot but this year a sliced rear tyre on sharp flint stones brought him undone. The rider from the Czech Republic put in a tube that a passing rider gave him but by then the race for a top result was over.

Connor Sens (46th) – The Australian gravel champion had held firm at the front through much of the race but after being dropped on some punchy climbs was pushing the pace on a descent and hit some big rocks and cracked his rim, but with a tube in the rider from Bendigo managed to get through the next 110km.

SOURCE: CyclingNews   (go to source)
AUTHOR: simone.giuliani@futurenet.com
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