2022 was a transition year for Cole Paton, and it was a good one, at that.
The 24-year-old, who’d been focusing on World Cup XCO racing since his junior days, decided last year to give endurance-style racing a go. He was accepted into the Life Time Grand Prix and kicked off the season with an impressive win at The Mid South.
Paton’s individual results within the series were enough to have him in third place going into Big Sugar Gravel, the final race of the series. His best result was second at the Crusher in the Tushar; he had to use Unbound as his drop race after not starting due to illness.
Paton had a “clean race” on the Bentonville, Arkansas gravel and would cross the finish line in 10th after a hotly contested race.
That result would push him onto the fourth step of the Grand Prix podium. Paton displayed characteristic humility and good sportsmanship at the finish — “I’m very proud of my growth and thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this new series,” he said.
This weekend, Paton will truly wrap up 2022 with an appearance at Iceman Cometh, the XC MTB race in northern Michigan that he won last year.
Here are some snapshots of his Scott Addict gravel rig at Big Sugar Gravel.
Patton’s Scott Addict Gravel is built with a 1x SRAM eTap AXS groupset with a Force crank, Red shifters, and an Eagle XX1 rear derailleur. Paton rode his Zipp Firecrest 303 wheels with Pirelli Cinturato tires on the day.
Former WorldTour pro turned artist and stoke-spreader TJ Eisenhart did the artwork on Paton’s — and his partner Savilia Blunk’s — POC Ventral helmet.
Patton came prepared with a Tubolito inner tube strapped to his Zipp top tube bag. Scott makes an integrated cockpit for the Addict Gravel.
Despite carbon’s prevalence in just about every component, metal cages are still popular for their durability and reliable grip during gravel races.
Oversize CeramicSpeed oversize pulleys make for a more efficient drivetrain.
This K-Edge chain guide makes dropping a chain doubtful.
With a tread design focused on high average speeds, Pirelli’s Cinturato Gravel RC tires are meant for racing and were a prevalent tire in Bentonville.