Ivar Slik's Wilier Rave SLR: The men's Unbound 200 winning bike
Complete with Evel Knievel-inspired kit designed by Niki Terpstra
Ivar Slik's lack of the WorldTour background that so many of his contemporaries share maybe means the winner of the men's Unbound 200 this weekend was not so well-known as some of the other participants. But having already won The Traka and finished second at Gravel Locos this year, the Dutchman certainly didn't arrive in Kansas as a complete outsider.
Speaking ahead of the race, the European beach racing champion expressed a desire to learn from last year's mistakes:
"Last year I wasted too much energy in the first part of the race," Slik explained. "The race is so long, more than ten hours [Slik's unofficial finish time was 9:22:04] and you need to ride smart and focus on your nutrition strategy. Also avoiding big sharp stones to not get a flat is really important. So my plan is to save some energy in the beginning and over halfway we can go full gas."
Outsprinting Keegan Swenson and Ian Boswell to take victory in Emporia, the strategy clearly paid off, but it wasn't one completely pinned on nutrition and line choice. Aerodynamics are also key in a 200-mile race, and it's for this reason Slik chose his sponsor Wilier's Rave SLR as his bike of choice, complete with Miche Graff wheels, Shimano GRX components, road pedals, an Ultegra chainset, and the one-piece Filante SLR cockpit replacing the V-shaped cockpit typically found on the Rave SLR.
What's more, despite the annual furore about whether aero bars belong in gravel racing, Slik saw them as essential. So much so that he 3D printed custom mounts to allow him to fit them onto the aero handlebars.
The rest of Slik's setup is a mismatch of components, typical of a bike built for Unbound. With the Rave SLR frame as its base, a GRX Di2 groupset takes care of braking and shifting, though unfortunately not the polished silver GRX Limited edition launched just this week. Up front, an Ultegra R8000 chainset is fitted with 50/34 chainrings and Look Keo pedals.
Miche Graff Route wheels sit at 36mm deep, and are shod with Schwalbe G-One tyres. The aero extensions are courtesy of Profile Design, while little more than a top tube bag and saddle bag were tasked with handling the on-bike storage.
Two Elite Vico bottle cages held what appear to be 750ml bottles, as well as a Lezyne mini pump and a CO2 canister. The hand pump looks to be missing at the end of the race, but it's unclear whether it fell off mid-race, or whether Slik was forced to put it to use.
Road pedals are a fairly common choice for Unbound racers, and Slik paired his with Shimano's RC901 road shoes - in white (but not for long) - with socks that were also white.
Interestingly, on the subject of kit, Slik also wore a skinsuit and helmet inspired by famous American motorcycle jumper and stuntman Evel Knievel. This kit was designed by Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix winner, Niki Terpstra.
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As the Tech Editor here at Cyclingnews, Josh leads on content relating to all-things tech, including bikes, kit and components in order to cover product launches and curate our world-class buying guides, reviews and deals. Alongside this, his love for WorldTour racing and eagle eyes mean he's often breaking tech stories from the pro peloton too.
On the bike, 30-year-old Josh has been riding and racing since his early teens. He started out racing cross country when 26-inch wheels and triple chainsets were still mainstream, but he found favour in road racing in his early 20s and has never looked back. He's always training for the next big event and is keen to get his hands on the newest tech to help. He enjoys a good long ride on road or gravel, but he's most alive when he's elbow-to-elbow in a local criterium.
By Barry Ryan