Despite what Chris Froome may think, gravel segments are increasing becoming a thing in pro road racing. On Sunday, Alexey Lutsenko took the win at the inaugural Clásica Jaén Paraíso Interior, which featured 40km of gravel.
This first year race, dubbed as the ‘Spanish Strade Bianche,’ saw riders on their normal road bikes, but many used 28mm tires instead of 25mm, and with lower air pressure than they would for an all-paved day.
Andrew Hood made the trip down to Úbeda from his home in León, Spain, to cover the race, and he took these photos.
Alexey Lutsenko took the first win of the year for Astana, beating the Belgians Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) and Loïc Vliegen (Intermarché-Wanty).
There were 40km of gravel segments in the 188km race. Lutsenko marked each of them on his stem. A K-Edge mount holds his computer for other points of data.
The Wilier O SLR is the all-around race bike from Wilier, which started doing the integrated cockpit back in 2016 with its Cento10AIR.
What’s this? An axle lever? Most WorldTour bikes have Allen-wrench fittings for wheel axles, for which mechanics will often use power drills for quick changes. Wilier’s 0 SLR uses Mavic’s Speed Release thru axle system, which doesn’t require the entire axle to be pulled out of the frame to remove the wheel. Plus, you don’t need a tool; you can just use your hands like with a traditional quick release.
The Vittoria Corsa is a common WorldTour tire. While some teams are moving to — or at least are experimenting with — tubeless versions, Lutsenko had the traditional Corsa Control tubulars at the Clásica Jaén Paraíso Interior.
Instead of a 25mm, many riders opted for 28mm tires with lower pressure for the gravel sections. Tim Wellens, for instance, ran 62psi in his 28mm tires.
Like many frames now, the Wilier O SLR features its own seatpost, with a truncated aerofoil shape.
Lutsenko leads the break on the gravel in southern Spain.
The latest Shimano Dura-Ace is Di2 only, and the levers feature a little light indicator for battery life, as the levers are now wireless. (The derailleurs still wire into a single battery that is housed inside the frame.)
Lutsenko ran straightforward 53/39 and 11-28 gearing, and had this 9150 crank with a power meter on his otherwise-9250 group.
CeramicSpeed claims its oversized pulley reduces friction by using ceramic bearings instead of steel, and by reducing chain articulation via the larger pulley wheel. In VeloNews lab testing, we have found both of these things to be true.
Lutsenko’s ‘gravel bike’ is his road race bike.
“It’s my first race of the season and a very hard one to start with,” Lutsenko said.