Flooding leads to last minute Unbound Gravel course changes

Unbound Gravel in 2021
Dry roads on Unbound Gravel in 2021 (Image credit: Wil Matthews)

The 2022 Unbound Gravel has had to make some last minute course changes as while the sun may have been shining as riders started to gather in Kansas on Thursday morning, late in the day came the news that out on the course flooding meant some of the planned river crossings were impassable.

Organisers have re-routed the 200 mile (322km) and XL, 350 mile, courses with the major change being a modification of the plan to send Saturday’s race south out of Eureka after the 77 mile checkpoint.

“We know it’s not ideal to change the course this close to race day — but hey, that’s gravel! And it’s why we love it,” said the race organisers in an Instagram post that included video of a heaving flooded river.

Instead of heading south of Eureka, a change made this year to take in a punchy climb at Canyon Hill, the re-route takes the course east to avoid the flooded impassable sections. But that doesn't mean riders will keep their tyres dry this year.

”Don’t worry- we’re working with local emergency services and still keeping plenty of your favorite water crossings," said organisers. "We’re just taking out the UNSAFE ones.”

Last year Lauren De Crescenzo won the women’s division of Unbound Gravel 200 in 12 hours, 6 minutes and 49 seconds after riding solo for the last 55 miles. The men’s race was a tight battle, finishing in a sprint after 10 hours, 17 minutes and 24 seconds, with Ian Boswell taking the victory ahead of Laurens ten Dam.

This year the race, which starts and finishes in Emporia, is set to be broadcast live and the signature 200 mile event is the second and longest stop in the six-race Life Time Grand Prix series.

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Simone Giuliani