July 21, 2024

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Ex-cycling pro Lachlan Morton wins Unbound Gravel after giant battle, Van Avermaet in 7th

Ex-cycling pro Lachlan Morton wins Unbound Gravel after giant battle, Van Avermaet in 7th

A distance of 327 kilometers on unpaved roads, an altitude of 3700 meters, and more than 9 hours of racing. After a difficult journey through hell, Lachlan Morton can call himself the winner of Unbound Gravel forever. In the last race, the Australian defeated home racer Haga. Greg Van Avermaet was the best Belgian in a good seventh place.

“The most legendary gravel race in the world.”

Learn about unbound gravel. What started as a sporting challenge for strong riders has evolved into a gravel competition with a name and fame.

Many big names have found their way back to the beginning. Mud World Champion Matej Mohorek, defending champion Keegan Swenson and former Tour of Flanders winner Niki Terpstra, to name a few.

The Belgians were also present: “Golden” Greg van Avermaet, Wattage cycling club member Jan Bakelants and former professional footballer Jelle Van Dam were part of the clan.

Bloating and sweating

It was Mohoric who made the first strike along with his teammates. Bakelants and Van Avermaet raced cautiously to the front. It was clear then that it would be a real war of attrition.

100 kilometers from the finish, the first masks fell.

Haga, Morton and Zonneveld came out strong and out, and Van Avermaet ran with the early chasers.

Meanwhile, Bakelantis had to deal with bad luck, and was actually lucky to finish in 10th place. Zonneveld suffered the same fate at the front, as a flat tire pushed the Dutchman off the front.

Excellent Morton, Greg is great

With 50 kilometers remaining, it became clear that Morton and Haga would battle it out for the win.

After a standoff lasting more than 9 hours, it was Morton who remained in the tank. The Australian bested his local rider in the Dying Swans and, after a bronze medal last year, has now claimed gold.

What about the Belgians?

“If I don’t encounter anything, I think I can finish in the top 10,” Van Avermaet said before the race.

The prediction he effectively made. The Rio Olympic champion can look back on a very strong race and immediately finished seventh on his debut. He ended up as the best Belgian.

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Jan Bakelants fought for what he deserved and made a few places from the back, the former pro coming in 28th, more than fifteen minutes behind the winner.

Jan Bakelants explodes: “That’s the character, boy!”

“I’ve already counted down the last 100 kilometres,” Greg Van Avermaet replied.

Pebbles Unbound 2024

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THE FINISH: Lachlan Morton takes the cobblestones unrestrained!

Heaven for Morton and Hell for Haga. In a strong sprint, the Australian overtakes the American in front of the home team’s fans. After more than 9 hours of racing (!) he was the best of the bunch and Morton was ready for a real night of celebration.

Tobias Kongstad (Denmark) wins the sprint race to take third place and take the podium. Our compatriot Greg Van Avermaet rode a fantastic gravel race, with the 2016 Olympic champion finishing seventh.

Note: This was the fastest version of the Unbound Gravel ever: 35.4 km/h on average. Pure madness.

Hand-to-hand combat

Morton and Haga pull it off to the bitter end. We’ll be facing a royal race in Emporia, and they won’t be able to get rid of each other. Stress is key!

Strong Jean fights for what he deserves

Another 20 kilometers

…And things are starting to look brighter and brighter for the leading duo!

Lachlan Morton is not a repeat winner, but the 32-year-old Australian already has plenty of gravel racing experience. Last year he took bronze in Unbound Gravel, and today the EF Education EasyPost rider is clearly on top of the podium.

Chad Haga is also over thirty years old, but he is still at the top level. The home rider won a time trial at the Giro in 2019. It’s the American’s first time in this race, and it’s a very good performance.

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Status after 188 miles (302 km)

Leaders
Morton (Australia)
Haga (USA)

Chasers (1) at 2’45”
Schoenberger (East)
De Marchi (ETA)
hook (dutch)
Svendsen (no)
Rod (USA)
McIlveen (USA)
Finsterwald (USA)
Van Avermaet
Kongstad (den)
beer (south africa)
Johnson (USA)

Chasers (2) at 5’30”
Swenson (USA)
Stetina (USA)
Drechou (France)
and so on

Zonneveld (Ned), Ten Dam (Ned), Mohorik (Sloof) and the bread Follow more 10 minutes of leaders

Van Avermaet grits his teeth

What about the Belgians?

Van Avermaet takes part in a second chase group and fights for the top ten, and Bakelants also fights bravely. From the background, showing a lot of flexibility, “Jankee” is knocking on the door of the top twenty.

Apers, Van Damme, Naesen and Eeckhout are not participating in the prize pool and are riding their own race. It’s a struggle for everyone anyway.

Status after 176 miles (283 km)

Leaders
Morton (Australia)
Haga (USA)

Chasers (1) at 1’30”
Schoenberger (East)
De Marchi (ETA)
hook (dutch)
Svendsen (no)

Chasers (2) at 2’10”
Van Avermaet
Finsterwald (USA)
McIlveen (USA)
Swenson (USA)
Kongstad (den)
Rod (USA)
beer (south africa)
Johnson (USA)

Zonneveld (Ned), Ten Dam (Ned), Mohorik (Sloof) and the bread Follow more than 8 Minutes of Chasers II

Dutchman Piotr Haavik leads the first chase group, and they get a little closer. They are still 1’30” behind the leading duo.

Gravel racing for big bikes

The riders have already been on their way for 8 hours, and there is still about an hour and a half to go. The front runners are still going at a fast pace, and the course computer shows an average speed of 34 km/h.

If you know how bad the trails cyclists ride on are, this is pure insanity.

There were more than 5,000 participants initially, including 200 professionals.

It appears that there are still 17 candidates to win from that group. No doubt everyone’s legs will feel like lead, but how fresh is their head?

Jan Bakelants enters the second checkpoint

From challenge to legendary race

What once began as “Dirty Kanza” and a sporting challenge for serious speculators, has now evolved into a legendary gravel competition with a name and fame.

For those starting a little later: Unbound Gravel is a 200-mile race – 327 km (!) – on unpaved roads. The sub-300km race consists of rocky gravel strips and wet gravel. Not for the faint of heart.

The course is interspersed with short climbs reminiscent of the hills in the Flemish Ardennes region. This brings us to an altitude of 3700 metres.

It is the most intermediate clay court competition in the world, where the absolute pinnacle exists. World champion Matej Mohoric, defending champion Keegan Swenson and former Olympic cycling champion Greg Van Avermaet were at the start.

250 kilometers in legs

…Long-time world clay court champion Matej Mohoric is gone. Laurens Ten Dam has also been out of the picture for a while.

However, the Dutchman has already finished fourth twice and finished on the podium in second place in 2021. For Mohoric, this is his first race since the Tour of Flanders, and the Slovenian is still lacking some rhythm.

Greg Van Avermaet still claims victory

Bad luck for Zonneveld

Zonneveld was also not spared from flat tires: the Dutchman has to leave the turn at the front due to bad luck and now follows a few minutes behind the peloton.

Van Avermaet is still paddling smoothly in the doomed suit, while Bakelantis is having a tough time. Cycling club member Wattage has completely lost touch with the peloton.