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First edition of UCI Gravel World Championships to be held in Tuscany

Riders on the gravel roads of Tuscany during the 2019 Nov Eroica
Riders on the gravel roads of Tuscany during the 2019 Nov Eroica (Image credit: L'Eroica)

Cyclingnews can reveal that the inaugural edition of the UCI Gravel World Championships will be held in Tuscany, Italy, with the racing on many of the same gravel roads or strade bianche as the famous L’Eroica ride on vintage bikes near Gaiole in Chianti and Siena in central Italy.

The Gravel World Championships in Tuscany are likely to be held in mid-October, perhaps a week after the 25th edition of L’Eroica and after the inaugural UCI Gravel World Series.

Details of the 14-event UCI Gravel World Series emerged this week, with Cyclingnews understanding a formal announcement of the series is expected soon, once the final details have been agreed with the UCI. The UCI awarded the management of the UCI Gravel World Series to Belgian events company Golazo.

The UCI Gravel World Series will apparently be sponsored by Trek and begins on April 3, 2022 in the Philippines. The Jingle GX Gravel Race in Iowa on September 24 will be the last of the events. No major events from established gravel events in the USA were named for the inaugural year of the UCI World Series, including Garmin Gravel Worlds in Nebraska but five UCI Gravel World Series events will be held in the USA.

There have been reports that the first Gravel World Championships would be held in the USA but after a series of meetings, considerations and offers, Cyclingnews understands that Tuscany has been selected. The event will be funded by sponsorship with the UCI receiving a significant fee from the organisers as it does with other world championships.

The founder of L’Eroica, Giancarlo Brocci, first offered to host the UCI Gravel World Championships in Tuscany in 2020 when he travelled to UCI headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland to meet UCI president David Lappartient.

Brocci refused to confirm that Tuscany would host the UCI Gravel World Championships when contacted by Cyclingnews but has always argued it would be the ideal place for such an event.

"I can’t think of a better place for it than here in Tuscany on our strade bianche gravel roads that inspired the original Eroica event," Brocci told Cyclingnews in 2020.

"We've created something special with L'Eroica and our events around the world, so I think Eroica can help gravel racing, too. We've got a proven record at organising events and I think we'd be able to put on a great World Championships and a great event."

The Eroica series now includes events around the world and has been copied many times, inspiring the wider gravel movement. Other modern Eroica events have been added to the calendar, with Nova Eroica in late April covering many of the same Tuscan strade bianche or white roads but on modern gravel bikes. The Strade Bianche professional races were created after the success of L’Eroica and riding on the Tuscan gravel roads has become a year-round attraction for many cyclists.

"Some people call it gravel, I prefer to call it Eroico (Heroic) because for me it's about going back to the roots and core beliefs of cycling and away from the modern robotic sport that has developed. I'm not looking back; I want to help the sport move forwards,” Brocci told Cyclingnews

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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.