Unbound Gravel and the evolution of gravel bikes

Sofía Gómez Villafane's Specialized Crux
Sofía Gómez Villafane's Specialized Crux (Image credit: Snowy Mountain Photography)

This year's Garmin Unbound Gravel presented by Craft is coming fast, racing in Emporia starting June 2 for the 350-mile event followed by the 200-mile and other categories on June 3. Over the years, this race has turned into the premier gravel race in the US and, perhaps, the world. That means all eyes are on the winners and the bikes that complete the gruelling events, especially the 200-mile race, in the least amount of time. 

However, gravel racing is distinctly different from the WorldTour. That might seem obvious but it's about far more than road surfaces. The athletes, both men and women, have to complete the course without support from the vast machinery of team backing. Brand partnerships require far less capital and the relationships are more personal. The gruelling nature of the ever-changing course, and less emphasis on superstar athletes, further helps bike choice to be open and free with less at stake. The result is that fans get to see choices closer to what they have at their local bike shop play out on a world stage. 

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