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Dutch rider Dennis van Winden (Orange Seal) and John Keller (Specialized) rounded out the men’s podium.
Roberge, who also races on the road for Elevate – Webiplex Pro Cycling, put his time trial skills to use in the last miles of Saturday’s 100 mile gravel race. He also opted for caution during the first, more technical half of the race.
“For me it was really about risk management,” he said. “People were having trouble with everything, but it was also really hard, we were putting pressure with every climb.”
The front of the men’s field assembled into a tight group of around 15 early in the race, but punctures and crashes splintered it before the halfway point. The course was characterized by numerous tight turns and sharp, punchy climbs and rowdy descents. Roberge said as the group dwindled due to mechanicals and overzealous riders, he saw his chance.
“The group was just getting smaller and smaller like a usual gravel race, so at 40k to go or something I put the hammer down on a steep climb. I know my TT skills are pretty good so I was like, I’m not waiting for the sprint, I’m just riding as hard as I can to the finish.”
Roberge crossed the line five minutes ahead of Dennis van Winden in second.
“It was a rough day out there,” van Winden said. “I was lucky that I punctured right ahead of Powless. He just chased me back to the lead group, I could not have done it that fast without the help of Neilson.”
Powless (EF Education-Nippo) was riding his first ever gravel race; the road pro suffered multiple punctures and finished 16th. Pete Stetina came in a few seconds before Powless after puncturing numerous times and stopping for a beer at the Whistling Springs Brewery, at mile 73.
John Keller, fresh off a win at The ‘Rad three weeks ago, was frustrated with his third place performance.
“I would have done better if it weren’t for mechanicals,” he said. “It was Adam and I together. I was feeling good, but I dropped a chain with 20 miles to go and he had the TT bars.”
Keller was on a brand new Specialized Crux, which he believe is the gravel bike.
“The weight makes a big difference on all of the risers,” he said. “They kicked up to 20 percent.”
There were no punctures for Keller, who rode 38c Specialized Trigger tires without inserts (Roberge credited his tire inserts for his good fortune on the day).
Big Sugar Gravel men’s results
- Adam Roberge, 4:59:10
- Dennis van Winden, 5:04:24
- John Keller, 5:06:07
- Bradyn Lange, 5:18:12
- Luke Hall, 5:20:08
Full results here.