Gravel racing has become a way for many roadies to continue racing after their time in the WorldTour comes to an end. But current WorldTour pros have been known to get in on the fun (second-degree fun at least) as well.
Best known as a classics specialist with a Paris-Roubaix and Flanders title to his name, Niki Terpstra headed out to Colorado earlier this month for the LeadBoat Challenge, taking on the Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race and SBT GRVL all in one weekend. The 38-year-old did pretty well for his first competitive gravel outing, finishing sixth in Steamboat Springs.
We got a closer look at his Specialized Crux gravel bike just after he crossed the finish line at SBT GRVL. Built up with sponsor-correct components and what his TotalEnergies team service course had on hand, the build is an interesting blend of road and gravel components.
Like with road frames for its sponsored teams, Specialized sent Terpstra’s Crux frame straight to the TotalEnergies service course to be built up by team mechanics. He was running an older 11-speed Dura-Ace Di2 group — unlike the team road bikes which are running 12-speed groups. There were no GRX gravel components on hand for the WorldTour road team.
A compact 50/34T crank paired with a 11-34T cassette provided Terpstra a 1:1 gear ratio to tackle the 9,000 feet of climbing over the course of the day.
TotalEnergies team sponsor CeramicSpeed provided Terpstra oversized pulley wheels for his rear derailleur. Some debris got caught in there over the course of the race.
WorldTour pros tend to get very attached to certain equipment, handlebars and saddles especially. Terpstra has been riding these traditional bend FSA bars for years. There’s no flare here.
The pro trash can. Terpstra stashed his food wrappers in the cutout of his saddle.
Terpstra was on Roval Terra CLX gravel wheels, which have a 25mm internal rim width for supporting wide tires.
The classics specialist chose 42mm S-Works Pathfinder tires.
There are no team cars in gravel, so Terpstra came prepared to fix his own flats.
This K-Edge chain catcher provided extra security over the 100 miles of gravel roads at the SBT GRVL Black course.
All the important locations of the day marked on the stem, just like a road race. His Garmin was also tied to the handlebars just in case.
When you’re on a team where everyone has the same equipment, you need to make sure you’re grabbing the right computer. Name tags help.
Terpstra also competed in the Leadville Trail 100 mtb race the day before, so he got a special number plate to indicate that. It was taped down to the frame for better aerodynamics.
Terpstra rode this Crux to sixth place overall. Could there be more gravel in the future for the 38-year-old WorldTour pro?