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VN news ticker: Garmin becomes title sponsor of Gravel Worlds, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak delays retirement

Here's what's making headlines on Thursday, February 3, 2022.

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Garmin becomes title sponsor of Gravel Worlds

Gravel Worlds has a new title sponsor.

Not to be confused with the yet-to-be-announced UCI gravel world championships, Gravel Worlds is a beloved gravel race in Lincoln, Nebraska. The event has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception in 2010, and in 2022 debuts a new title sponsor.

Related: Gravel Worlds announces 1000 Women of Gravel Worlds Initiative

“For years, Gravel Worlds has celebrated all riders – from the beginners to the pros – and we are thrilled to be the title sponsor of such a welcoming and supportive event,” said Susan Lyman, Garmin’s vice president of global consumer marketing. “As a company that takes pride in creating products for athletes of all abilities, we look forward to cheering on this year’s runners and cyclists as they race through the Nebraska countryside.”

Founded in 2010, Gravel Worlds started out as a single, 150-mile event through the rolling hills of Nebraska. Now, Garmin Gravel Worlds offers several additional race distances, including the Privateer 75, Buccaneer 50K, Long Voyage 300 and the inaugural Land Ho 50K ultramarathon.

“As a Midwest-based company, many of Garmin’s employees have attended Gravel Worlds for years. Garmin understands where we’ve come from and what we are trying to accomplish in the world of gravel and this understanding is incredibly valuable to our event,” said Jason Strohbehn, Gravel Worlds director of operations and marketing.

“Through this whole process, Garmin has been dedicated to helping build on our goals rather than try to change us to fit a mold. Gravel Worlds will remain a grassroots event focused on the everyday rider while still celebrating the peak of human performance and Garmin is coming alongside us to help make that happen.”

Chantal van den Broek-Blaak (SD Worx) will delay her retirement from pro cycling until the conclusion of the 2024 season.

“Initially, we had hoped that Chantal would still ride the Tour de France this year,” said team manager Danny Stam. “We were therefore surprised, but also very happy with her proposal to continue until the end of 2024. She is of great value within the team. There are few riders of her caliber to be found.”

Team management was enthusiastic about van den Broek-Blaak’s decision, and will support her should she decide to take a leave of absence during this time to start a family.

“In addition, she continuously thinks in the interests of the team, which makes her of great value. Last year she still managed to win Strade Bianche, which indicates the high level at which she still performs. We respect Chantal’s wish to have children. It is also a challenge to get her up to standard afterwards,” Stam also said.

The 32-year-old former world champion was set to retire in 2022 to spend more time with her husband. However, upon reconsideration, she decided to continue chasing her dreams, indicating her husband was no longer suffering from burnout.

“My husband Lars had a burnout. That was a difficult time, because I wanted to be there for him and at the same time continue to train and race as well as possible,” she said. “But now, almost two years later, Lars has fully recovered and our life looks ‘normal’ again. I now notice that I am not done with the sport yet. I like top sport, I still like racing, I can still do it and I’m still at a good level.”

Van den Broek-Blaak has her sights set on the inaugural Tour de France Femmes, among other races, and has the backing of the team management.

“The first Tour is special and I would like to experience it. I had the feeling more and more that I was not really done with [racing] yet. The people close to me also started to notice,” said van den Broek-Blaak.

E3 Saxo Bank Classic women’s race

Race organizers of the E3 Saxo Bank Classic in partnership with Leiedal Koerse plan to host a women’s race in 2022.

The E3 Saxo Bank Classic women’s race is on the calendar for Saturday, April 30, reported Wielerflits.

“We think working together is a smart way to keep Harelbeke and Bavikhove high on the cycling map. Leiedal Koerse can enjoy the course structure and the brand name of E3 Saxo Bank Classic. E3 Saxo Bank Classic can benefit from the hospitality and public appeal of Leiedal Koerse,” stated the Leiedal Koerse race organizers.

The start and finish of the women’s race will be in Bavikhove, in the Harelbeke region in west Flanders.

“The collaboration is also cost-effective and energy-saving. One course for one day, one arrival for one day, one-time setting up the entire logistics machine for three races is much easier.”

The men’s edition of the E3 Saxo Classic is set for Friday, March 25, 2022