Tibco-SVB teammates Brodie Chapman and Lauren Stephens dominated the SBT GRVL, placing first and second, respectively, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, on Sunday. The two riders covered the 225.6km route, which included 2,743 metres of climbing, in under seven hours. They will both be racing in the upcoming Colorado Classic, held from August 22-25.
"The SBT GRVL Race was an awesome opportunity," Chapman said. "It's really cool that we as professional road cyclists get to mix up our programme with something as challenging and different as gravel racing.
"This was my first 'official' gravel race, and I'll admit I was a bit apprehensive about what to expect out of myself, at altitude, coming from a block of European racing – not to mention the stacked and experienced gravel field here in the USA."
Chapman won the Gravel and Tar La Femme in January in Australia and then joined Tibco-SVB for the start of her season at the Herald Sun Tour, where she was third overall. After a spring Classics campaign, she travelled to the US and won the Tour of the Gila and was sixth overall at the Tour of California. She returned to Europe for a series of UCI stage races that culminated with the Women's Tour of Scotland earlier this month.
Chapman and Stephens are also in the US to compete at the upcoming Colorado Classic held from August 22-25. The event also starts in Steamboat Springs, and so adding the gravel event to their programme made sense logistically.
"I like long races, and I like gravel, so I was really looking forward to seeing how it would play out," said Chapman, who described what happened in the race.
"My teammate Lauren Stephens was really well prepared, and this gave me so much confidence and calm. She knows the scene and is in really great shape.
"After Lauren got an untimely flat, I just rode with the leading men's group for as long as possible, following surges but also being conservative at every opportunity. Once I had a small working group, we rolled turns to the finish. It was an awesome course, with incredible landscapes and fantastic organisation.
"It was special to ride this race as a team, with everything from planning and speculating the days before the race, to team mechanic support. And being able to represent Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank on the top step is extra special when it is at 'home' in the USA."
Stephens had a leg injury that put a dent in her season last year. Although she hasn't quite returned to her previous form on the road, she showed potential with a top 10 at the Chrono Gatineau, and second place at the SBT GRVL gravel race. She could be a dark horse contender for a stage win or even the overall title at the Colorado Classic.
She spoke about her race at the SBT GRVL, and in particular her flat tyre that took her out of the running for the win.
"Yesterday was an exciting day," Stephens said. "I've put a lot of energy into preparing for this race. I was devastated when I flatted 60 miles into the 140 mile race. But luckily I got back on the bike quickly with a little help from my husband, Mat.
"Knowing I had Brodie up the road with the front group of men, I settled into my own rhythm and focused on attempting to get back but also riding within myself. In the end, Brodie took the win, and I took the overall QOM."
Chapman claimed the top place for women and 15th overall, while Stephens was second and won the mountains classification.
Watch the SBT GRVL event highlights in the video below.
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