UCI Gravel World Championships and Giro del Veneto provide a fitting finale to a memorable season.
European summertime officially ended the last Sunday of October, which brings the curtain down on exhilarating road and gravel seasons.
It’s been a long, hard, but rewarding year for Campagnolo riders in both genres of cycling with the 2022 racing amphitheatre continuing to enthral and entertain right up to two of the biggest events of this year in the form of the game-changing UCI Gravel World Championships and the Ride the Dreamland Series, both supported and sponsored by Campagnolo.
Here, we reflect on an historic autumnal week in cycling.
UCI GRAVEL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
The weekend of 8-9 October 2022 will go down in history as the date gravel riding cranked up to another level as Veneto, Italy, home of Campagnolo, hosted the inaugural UCI Gravel World Championships.
Over two days of intense action, 458 elite and recreational riders finished out of a starting list of 533.
There were many standouts, especially for amateur riders Sebastian Schönberger and Riejanne Markus, who won the Campagnolo segment at the Gravel Worlds and, in the process, won the most reliable and robust gravel wheels in the world – the Levante wheelset.
This short gravel section required dexterity, confidence and power, highlighted by Schönberger who completed the segment in 1:32mins at an impressive average of nearly 40km/hr.
In the elite men’s race, Australian Nathan Haas looked to build on a successful season that’s seen him challenge at all the major events and take victory in Iceland’s brutal 200km Rift gravel race.
Haas is a great proponent of Campagnolo gear (as he explains it in this interview), especially those Levante wheels and the innovative 13-speed Ekar groupset. Unfortunately, Haas crashed inside the first 30km, breaking a finger. Bravely, Haas dug deep and finished 16th in the extraordinary Cittadella, a mediaeval-walled city in the province of Padua.
Congratulations also head in the direction of Greg van Avermaet, who competes on the road for Campagnolo-sponsored AG2R CITROËN TEAM where he uses Campagnolo Super Record EPS and Bora Ultra WTO wheels to great effect.
The 37-year-old Olympic road-race champion (2016) and winner of Paris-Roubaix in 2017 used all his experience and tactical nous to claim an impressive fourth overall.
Grabbing the headlines, too, albeit not racing, was UAE Team Emirates’ Tadej Pogačar, who also dreams and rides big with Campagnolo Super Record EPS and Bora Ultra WTO wheels.
The two-time Tour de France winner looked in relaxed mood as he enjoyed the action, revealing that Il Lombardia and Strade Bianche are two of his favourite races.
The 24-year-old regaled all with his love of racing in Italy and that one day he’d like to race the UCI Gravel World Championships.
“I’d actually planned to race this year,” he revealed, “but I couldn’t start. I hope in the next years I can compete in this event.” “I’m also motivated to compete in other races,” the Slovenian continued. “And the Tour is the Tour. Coming second this year has given me extra motivation to try and win again.”
He then credited Campagnolo with his equipment giving him the edge before finishing by stating that the road rainbow jersey is one of his big motivators. Ultimately, the UCI Gravel World Championships proved incredibly successful with talk already turning to 2023.
There are rumours that the race will remain in Italy but maybe not in Veneto. That’s to be confirmed.
What’s clearer is that the foundations are now in place to grow and develop the beautiful sport of gravel cycling.
RIDE THE DREAMLAND
Just three days after the (gravel) dust had settled, cycling’s gaze returned to this most stunning and delectable part of Italy with the Giro del Veneto, the first of four races under the Ride the Dreamland with Campagnolo umbrella.
The first edition of the Giro del Veneto took place in 1909 but last year’s event was the first since 2012 after a hiatus of nine years. Its return’s been welcomed by riders and spectators alike.
And especially welcomed by Campagnolo riders who grabbed three of the top-six placings.
UAE Team Emirates’ Matteo Trentin went one better than 2021 by winning the 159.2km hilly event, breaking from a five-man group and then outsprinting Rémy Rochas of Cofidis. (Rochas, like Trentin, uses Campagnolo Super Record EPS.)
UAE Team Emirates’ Diego Ulissi finished sixth.
“Last year it really annoyed me to be second,” Trentin, said afterwards. “This year we came with a really strong team and it really played out perfectly. I had really good legs today and an exceptionally good teammate in Ulissi. And that’s it, I finally won.”
Two days later on the 14th October, Veneto hosted the Serenissima Gravel, the second race in the Ride the Dreamland Series. The 191km event from Porto Barricata to Piazzola sul Brenta proved an action-packed affair with Robin Froideveaux taking the victory.
The Saturday saw the recreational event, VenetoGo, before the Veneto Classic completed a magnificent four days of racing on the Sunday.
And how apt it was that a Campagnolo rider, Marc Hirschi of UAE Team Emirates, claimed the win.
Teammate Davide Formolo finished second. And so a wonderful week – and season – reached its conclusion.
Congratulations to all the elite and amateur riders who looked to dream big in 2022.