Grant and Voss win inaugural titles at Red Bull Rio Grande Gravel

Emma Grant and Paul Voss entered the record books as the inaugural winners of the Red Bull Rio Grande Gravel, which started and finished at the Cibolo Creek Ranch outside Marfa, Texas on Saturday.

Dubbed as the “dule among gravel’s best in the far out west”, the new 127-kilometre event offered 1,275 metres of climbing across dirt and gravel roads. 

Grant dominated the small women’s field in the Rio Grande Gravel, sealing the victory in 4 hours, 40 minutes and 47 seconds for a 25-minute advantage over runner-up Jenn Real. The two competed a week ago at the Belgian Waffle Ride in California, Real finishing 18th and Grant following one spot behind in 19th position. In Texas, Grant made a statement by finishing well ahead of Real, while Celene Oberholzer finished third.

In the men’s division, Voss hammered across the bumpy, dry terrain in the foothills of the Chinati mountains of west Texas for the win in 3 hours, 55 minutes and nine seconds. The only other rider to post a sub-four-minute time was runner-up Innokenty Zavyalov, who finished four minutes back. Zavyalov came to Texas after posting a top 20 finish at the Belgian Waffle Ride California, and with his seventh place the next day at the Wafer ride (114km), he finished with a podium in the weekend Dubbel Header challenge. 

Texas-native Colin Strickland was touted earlier in the year as the hands-down favourite, but came into the race recovering from a respiratory infection that caused him to pull out of the BWR California race. The rider added on Instagram days before lining up at Rio Grande Gravel that after his illness he was "approaching the heaviest racing block of the year, and feeling hopelessly behind the competition on preparation".

Still, Strickland wasn't far from the front, settling for third overall on Saturday.

"It was a very hot day in South Texas, and the racing kicked off as soon as we hit the first section of moon dust around mile 7," Strickland told Cyclingnews in an email. "From there it was a barrage of sun, wind, dust, loose sand and chunky rock."

Voss had taken to the front of the race and pulled out a gap by the end of the first of three laps

"I suggested that we let Paul hang out in the wind alone for a while, but it turns out he was more than up to that task," Strickland said. "By the beginning of lap 3, I let Inno and Bradyn [Lange] go and hung out in the feed zone to drink an extra bottle and try to stave off dehydration."

Zavyalov the continued on to take second while Strickland later caught and passed Lange to take third.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Results - women
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Emma Grant 4:40:47
2Jenn Real 0:24:50
3Celene Oberholzer 0:43:32
4Annie Bathalter 1:10:56
DNFBibiana Gutierrez
DNFEmily Monroe
Swipe to scroll horizontally
Results - men
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Paul Voss 3:55:09
2Innokenty Zavyalov 0:04:17
3Colin Strickland 0:08:27
4Bradyn Lange 0:11:54
5Jonas Orset 0:16:31
6Mat Stephens 0:18:34
7Will Surbaugh 0:22:38
8Spencer Jones 0:26:15
9Austin Whittington 0:31:30
10Tristan Uhl 0:34:31

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