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What do WorldTour road pros, long-distance gravel specialists, triathletes, and mountain bikers all have in common?
They’re all poised to meet in the Flint Hills of Kansas at this year’s Unbound Gravel, the race formerly known as DK. The race is slated to go off on Saturday, June 5, which will mark the event’s return after organizers canceled the 2020 edition due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Thursday, the race released its participant list for 2021, and the lineup of athletes participating in the marquee 200-mile event is again teeming with top riders from multiple disciplines.
Amity Rockwell, the 2019 champion, headlines the women’s field, which sees a smattering of strong women from various backgrounds.
2017 DK champ Alison Tetrick will line up for the fourth time at the Kansas race, alongside other road pros-turned-gravel specialists Olivia Dillon, Whitney Allison, Jess Cerra, Amy Charity, and Lauren DeCrescenzo.
Gravel stalwart Kae Takeshita — who has two 4th place finishes in Emporia —will also be in attendance.
Other notable riders who have come to gravel from different disciplines include ‘cross star Rebecca Fahringer, downhiller Kathy Pruitt, XC mountain biker Kaysee Armstrong, and triathlete Heather Jackson. Earlier this year, Fahringer won the Gorge Gravel Grinder, and Pruitt finished second at last October’s Belgian Waffle Ride Cedar City.
The Team Twenty24 development squad is also bringing three riders to contest the 200-mile event: Shayna Powless, Jen Luebke, and Natalia Franco have been putting in the work on the dirt and at gravel races all year.
In the men’s race, reigning champ Colin Strickland will face a wall of WorldTour talent, from current Trek-Segafredo teammates Quinn Simmons and Kiel Rjinen, to Movistar’s Matteo Jorgenson, as well as retired roadies-turned gravel privateers Pete Stetina, Ted King, Travis McCabe, and Ian Boswell.
Cory Lockwood, the 2019 Redlands Bicycle Classic champion, is also racing the 200-mile event, as is retired WorldTour rider Christian Meier of Canada, and former U.S. pro road champion Greg Daniel.
Retired Dutch pros Laurens ten Dam and Thomas Dekker are also making the trip to Emporia.
A handful of cross-country mountain bike riders will toe the line at Unbound this year: Payson McElveen, Ryan Standish, Alexey Vermeulen, Scott Tietzel, and Ryan Petry will race alongside retired former national and Pan-American MTB champ Jeremiah Bishop.
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Watch out for multi-surface racers Dylan Johnson and John Borstelmann, both of whom have been putting in the miles at mountain bike, crit, and gravel races already this year. Borstelmann is the 2019 Gravel Worlds champ.
Lining up at Unbound in his first gravel season ever is BMX legend Jamie Bestwick, who will be representing the Scuderia Pinarello squad.
Just over 2,700 riders are registered to ride across six distances at this year’s Unbound Gravel.