Wout Van Aert and Niki Terpstra were among a number of pro riders who completed their own version of Dirty Kanza, the annual American gravel race scheduled to take place this weekend but postponed by the coronavirus.
The European riders created their own 200-mile routes, or 320km in their currency, setting out at 6am on Saturday May 30.
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Titling their rides “Dirty Kanzelled”, Wout Van Aert rode alongside Jumbo-Visma team-mate Maarten Wynants and fellow cyclocross rider Daan Soete, taking on a route in northern Belgium.
Van Aert and his companions completed their 322km effort in just over 11 hours, averaging a speed of 28.6km/h.
Meanwhile, Niki Terpstra rode around the north-west of the Netherlands, completing 324km in just under 12 hours alongside former pro Laurens ten Dam, who was behind the idea of Dirty Kanzelled, as well as Continental rider Ivar Slik and mountain bike and cyclocross rider Thijs Al.
Terpstra averaged 27.1km/h while burning nearly 13,000 calories.
“It was especially long,” Soete told Het Laatste Nieuws afterwards. “It was a pleasant day, a real adventure. Did I hang in their wheels a lot? You should ask [Van Aert and Wynants] that. At times, for sure, when the wind was up,” he laughed.
“We have all done our part,” Van Aert added. “But if you were in the wheel it was a good time to make a video. But we did 320km and as much as possible off-road, that was the intention. We made our own route because today it was normally the Dirty Kanza.
“It seemed a nice challenge for us to participate in something like this during this period. And yes, it was fun,” he said.
Van Aert spent a number of days working out their route and also had to prepare his own supplies, something he’s not accustomed to doing during his WorldTour duties.
“The route wasn’t ideal, but I like to do that. You also need some preparation to get your bike in order so that you can bring enough [supplies]. You were supposed to stop only twice. That was half the fun already. And by doing this, you notice that you miss those challenges, so this was a good replacement,” he said.
Will he be repeating the challenge any time soon? “Not immediately,” Van Aert admitted. “I’m going to take it easy for the first two days. But the original Dirty Kanza is something I want to do someday. I’m always keen for something like that.”