Canadian Adam Roberge had a short transition from road racing to gravel in 2021 and it quickly paid off with a third place finish at Gravel Locos. A week later, he placed fourth at Unbound Gravel. He ended the season with a victory at the first Big Sugar Gravel.
It was no surprise then that the 24-year-old Canadian was selected from among 30 male riders to compete in next year’s Life Time Grand Prix series, which combines three gravel races and three mountain bike races. There were also 30 riders who went through the nomination process, and all riders will compete for a $ 250,000 purse with equal payouts for the two elite fields.
Roberge planned to continue his momentum with gravel in 2022, participating in the six Life Time GP events as well as the Quadrupel Crown of Gravel, four Belgian Waffle Ride events.
“I couldn’t be more excited about this. My schedule is going to focus on the Life Time six-race series and the Belgian Waffle Ride four-race series, ”said Roberge. Cycling news of his snow-covered house in Quebec. “I think that will make the season even more exciting. I think in terms of the professional level of cycling it is [Grand Prix] the first big step for gravel. “
Early in his career he rode mountain biking and for the past five years has focused on the road with the North American continental programs Silber Pro Cycling and Elevate-Webiplex Pro Cycling. He finished fourth overall at the Joe Martin Stage Race, but earlier in the year, knowing road races would be rare in North America, he turned to gravel.
“I just added gravel week after week. Each race preparation is so different, I am making it a project, ”said Roberge. Cycling news. “My first gravel race was Gravel Locos. It was my preparation for Unbound. In a way, it was new, but it wasn’t new with my mountain biking experience. At the end of the day, it’s just racing.
“Of course there are some details that I didn’t know about, but I was a bit lucky. I always had other runners with me who could give me tips and tricks, and that was good. I would say the first thing everyone learns is about tire pressure, especially from the road. I didn’t understand how well you can ride with low tire pressure and leaning on the lower side.
“With all the good results I had, I decided in October to sign with an agent. There are a lot more emails and responsibilities, but it’s fun to work on your own. I will miss the team vibe, ”said Roberge, again referring to his stint as the privateer on the gravel scene, as his plans to return to Elevate-Webiplex were yet to be confirmed.
Life Time GP organizers announced last week an expanded elite field of 30 women and 30 men, which will distribute the $ 250,000 purse among the top 10 riders based on the riders with the most points out of five of the six races. First place will bring in $ 25,000. Three events — Crusher in the Tushar, Chequamegon MTB Festival, Sea Otter Classic — offer individual scholarships, which will also be available to participants of the Grand Prix series.
“I was planning on doing pretty much all of them in the Life Time series. The only one I wasn’t sure was Sea Otter. I’ve done a lot of cross country racing in my life, and if there’s one thing I don’t want to do again, it’s cross country racing, like just taking a lap. That’s what I like about gravel, there is a big trick to do. I really need to put extra effort into riding my ATV more, I think that’s going to be the key.
He amassed consistent results in the Belgian Waffle Ride events from July to October and won the series title in three races, the Tripel [sic] Crown in 2021. The Quadrupel Crown of Gravel in 2022 will add its Kansas run to the events of San Diego, North Carolina and Utah for a series prize, paid to the top three men and women in the overall standings, and about a 10th out of the sum of the lifetime. Each Waffle Ride also pays its own purse to the top five, men and women.
Growing pains for gravel
He felt that Life Time’s second round of Gravel was not just a great personal opportunity, but a boost for the growth of the sport in general.
“In a way, I am very grateful to Life Time for what they are doing and I understand why they have limited the number of runners. But for someone going into the gravel right now, for them it’s an inconvenience. So that’s the only downside, you have to start from somewhere, ”said Roberge.
“I think getting all that money and making sure all the big gravel players are ‘all in’ is just going to make the sport grow. It’s going to give the sport a lot of attention, much like triathlon and Ironman when they have big events and big names.
“The only thing I’m afraid is that we would hear that the UCI wanted to do some races, but we haven’t heard from them yet. This could be a real issue I am having with the timing. But other than that, I was planning on doing all of those errands anyway. They are all doing great and I don’t have any other big races going on at the same time.
Asked about sanctioned gravel races and a world championship event to be revealed, the UCI said Cycling news that a calendar will be published next February with the dates and places. Speculation among the gravel community was that a world championship would be held in the United States, and the impending announcement could include venues for the first three calendar years.
For now, the former Canadian junior road champion will focus on new gravel pursuits. He looks forward to more dirt, dust and mud, where “anything can happen.”
“So the Life Time thing is an omnium, it’s really different, and you’ve got a breed that you can really play with. You never know what’s going to happen in the gravel. The Belgian Waffle Ride is very different. because it’s timed. If something bad happens you really have to find a way not to waste too much time. The race won’t be won if you waste time, but if you lose, let’s say 25 minutes on someone at one of the races because you are having a bad day, the series could be for you. I like that it is not the same for the two races, “observed Roberge of the series formats.
He said his road experience and mountain bike racing expertise gave him an edge for the Life Time Series in particular, as the first event was a 75 mile cross country event in April. And he was especially excited to defend his Big Sugar title, as this race was the series finale and could be a decisive tiebreaker if needed.
“With my experience on the road, I have really learned to be very consistent. When you’re a GC guy you can’t afford to have bad days so I think that’s one of my cards. The second card is that in winter I do fat bikes. I pretty much do all of my volume rides on a fat bike, to make sure my technical skills are there. And in the summer I still do a lot of mountain biking and rough gravel. I’m not saying I’m perfect at both [road and mountain bike], it’s far from the case, but I think it’s a pretty good argument, ”Roberge said in a video he posted on his social media.
“The final event of the series, Big Sugar Gravel, is actually mandatory, so it’s actually perfect. I’m going to have to defend the Big Sugar title and it’s going to be a big party. Big Sugar, I think, is a great class, great way to end it all It’s $ 25,000 for first place I plan to aim for the win.
Roberge’s rating of the Life Time Grand Prix series races:
Fuego 100K Cross Country Mountain Bike at the Sea Otter Classic, April 9: It looks like an Olympic style cross country race, the only difference is that it is not technical, it is super fast and most of the time on grass or dirt. so it’s almost in the middle of a cross country race, and a cyclo-cross race and a bit of a criterium. There should be a peloton dynamic.
Gravel 200 unbound, June 4: The second race we go from the shortest race to the longest race, Unbound Gravel, 200 miles. Unbound is really hard, really, really hard gravel on the tires. It’s really a race against yourself, a race to be careful, a race to be smart, a race to limit damage.
Crusher in the Tushar, July 9: The elevation is very high in Utah, you start at 6,000 feet and end at 10,000 feet. I’m really excited about this one.
Leadville Trail 100 MTB, August 13: This one, I would say, is like Crusher, but longer and harder. From what I hear, it’s just crazy. What’s crazy is the altitude, 13,000 feet [elevation gain]. The lowest point is at 9,000 feet. This will certainly require some preparation at altitude.
Mountain bike Chequamegon, September 17: The Chequamegon MTB Festival is a kind of gravel race on an ATV. Heard it was super technical and I’m really excited about it.
Big Sugar Gravel, October 22: The land on Big Sugar is a lot like Unbound, I would say. It’s very hard on the tires. It’s about risk management. I will be there to defend my title.