'Thank you Howard' – support riders make the difference with wheel swap for Finsterwald in Unbound Gravel

A terribly muddy section from mile 11 to 14 shattered bikes, spirits, and the field. A lead group of 7 men had significant gap at mile 22.
A muddy section from mile 11 to 14 shattered bikes, spirits, and the field, leading to the formation of a lead group of 7 men including two Specialized Off-Road riders, Russell Finsterwald and Howard Grotts (Image credit: SnowyMountain Photography)

Teamwork on the road is de rigeur but in gravel the focus more often on individual strength, with support riders an exception – albeit a growing one – rather than the rule. Key Unbound Gravel 200 contender, Russell Finsterwald, was grateful that Howard Grotts was one of those exceptions in the Flint Hills of Kansas.

“One face that was originally part of the lead group this weekend was my teammate [Grotts],” said Finsterwald in an Instagram post. “We went into the day with the plan that we would race as a team and he would ride in a support role, offering his assistance in the event of a mechanical or chasing back on.”

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Simone Giuliani
Australia Editor

Simone is a degree-qualified journalist that has accumulated decades of wide-ranging experience while working across a variety of leading media organisations. She joined Cyclingnews as a Production Editor at the start of the 2021 season and has now moved into the role of Australia Editor. Previously she worked as a freelance writer, Australian Editor at Ella CyclingTips and as a correspondent for Reuters and Bloomberg. Cycling was initially purely a leisure pursuit for Simone, who started out as a business journalist, but in 2015 her career focus also shifted to the sport.