While Gravel Worlds was celebrating Year 10 on Saturday, there was a new kid on the gravel block a little farther north at the inaugural SBT GRVL p/b Canyon in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
The first-year race was an effort put together by Mark Satkiewicz, Amy Charity and Ken Benesh, and it made a big splash on the gravel landscape with a sold-out field of over 1,000 riders and talented fields thanks in part to the $28,000 in payouts split equally between the women and men. The race also launched a #SBTPARITY initiative to eventually get registrations up to 50/50 between women and men. [For more on women’s participation in gravel, see Victoria Rainbolt’s analysis of women’s participation in gravel.]
SBT GRVL offered three distances in its first go-round. The Black route was 141 miles long, the Blue route 99 miles and the Green 37 miles. All of the routes were a majority gravel west of Steamboat Springs, with the Black and Blue routes featuring more than 70% unpaved roads.
Riders had the option of registering for either pro or age group fields, with the largest payouts reserved for the pro fields. Reports from the 141-mile Black Open Women and Open Men races are below.
Perhaps one of the most memorable facets of the inaugural SBT GRVL race, which launched today with three course distances that wove through the beautiful rural gravel roads in and around Steamboat Springs, Colo., is the fact that the event drew 400 female riders. That’s just under 30 percent of the 1,500 riders who signed up to ride.
That’s a strong showing of female gravel riders for a first-year event. And all 400 of them showed up ready to ride, and at 6:30 a.m. sharp, 1,500 riders left Steamboat’s Yampa Street ready to take on the gravel courses.
Among those 400 female riders, an incredible pro women’s cycling field went to battle for a prize purse of $11,000, the majority of which was awarded to the top five finishers of the Black Course. Another $3,000 was earmarked for winners of the Blue and Green Courses, respectively, as well as age-group top finishers.
At the end of the day, it was Brodie Chapman of Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank Pro Women’s road-racing team who took the top step of the podium with a winning time of 6:56:40.
Second place went to Chapman’s teammate Lauren Stephens, while Sarah Sturm took third. Sturm placed second in the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race last weekend, and also won the Belgium Waffle Ride in the spring of this year. The top five women’s pro winners also include multi-discipline cycling pro Alison Powers and Nina Laughlin, a pro cyclist and coach for Carmichael Training Systems.
Alexis Racheotes finished fourth overall and won her age group.
Brodie held a consistent pace and position at the start of the ride, racing head-to-head with second-place finisher, Lauren Stephens. By the time Chapman topped the first climb, she put in a seven-minute gap on Stephens after she suffered a flat tire. Chapman, named ‘Gravel and Tar Champion’ as well as the first-overall winner in the Tour of the Gila in 2019, held on to the lead for the rest of the race.
“I came here to win,” said Chapman. “Unfortunately my teammate Lauren got a flat and I knew I had to keep going so I just pushed on and tried to hold the wheel and stay out of the wind, and it got really fast.”
The inaugural Queen of the Mountain title for the climb-heavy Black Course goes to Stephens, who had a cumulative climbing time of 53:40 over the three major Black Course climbs.
Top 25 finishers for all divisions of the Black race are below.
The inaugural race attracted a high caliber men’s field as well comprised of World Tour road racers, including some retirees like six-time Tour de France Green Jersey winner Erik Zabel and Ted King, who last rode professionally for Cannondale-Garmin’s UCI Pro Team. It also counted active pros among its ranks, hailing from cycling disciplines including marathon-distance, mountain bike and gravel racing.
Course conditions were improved from rains on Saturday, and the race unfolded under a blue sky with temperatures that reached 85-degrees. It turned out to be a perfect day for King and marathon mountain bike and gravel racer Payson McElveen, to duke it out for most of the 141 miles of the course.
King broke away to take the lead during the rolling gravel flats between climbs two and three. He had to fight hard and consistently through the last 20 miles at Cow Creek to best McElveen, who continued to attack King on the toughest climbs of the day.
King ultimately prevailed with a 1:54 gap on McElveen, adding the win to his gravel palmares, which includes the 2018 win of the Dirty Kanza 200 gravel race.
“This event, and the best gravel events, happen with an amazing amount of camaraderie,” said King, the men’s Black Course winner. “It’s been a year of ‘almosts’ (for me) and (it was) really fun to duke it out with these guys.”
King said that he and second-place winner McElveen were talking with each other at the end of the race, between attacking each other.
“We were just saying how stunning the landscape of this race is, it’s outstanding. Steamboat has been such an amazing (host) community; we’ve really loved this whole weekend.”
In addition to the second step on the podium, McElveen was awarded a hard-fought King of the Mountain title in the inaugural SBT GRVL. He rode the three main climbs on the Black Course, which total almost 9,000-vertical feet, with the fastest cumulative time of the day (48:32), and brings home a valuable prize package from race sponsors Panaracer, Roka, OtterBox, Feedback Sports, GU Energy, Primal and SmartWool.
Colin Strickland (overall men’s winner of this year’s Dirty Kanza), Jacob Ruthe and Jonathan Baker rounded out the top five pro men, who together will split $11,000 of the $28,000 prize purse.
Top 25 results for all divisions of the Black race are below.
Open Women Results: 2019 Steamboat Gravel
|9||Lauren De Crescenzo||7:38:08|
Open Men Results: 2019 Steamboat Gravel