The UCI have announced that they will be creating a World Series for gravel cycling in 2022, including a World Championship as the popularity of the discipline booms.
Cycling's governing body, UCI, decided in a meeting at the Road World Championships in Flanders, Belgium, that they would go into the world of gravel cycling in a joint organisation with Golazo, who organise many of the current events.
Races such as the Garmin Unbound race have been extremely popular in America with the gravel bug now making its way over to Europe too.
As part of its new changes in off-road disciplines, the UCI plans to introduce a cyclocross team relay during the 2022 World Championships in the USA, while plans are also underway for a UCI Snow Bike World Cup and World Championships in 2022-2023.
Part of an off-road innovation initiative, the UCI discussed the new World Series: "A new discipline, gravel, will join the UCI Cycling for All International Calendar in 2022. From next year, the UCI will organise – in collaboration with events organiser Golazo – a UCI Gravel World Series consisting of events enabling athletes to qualify for the UCI Gravel World Championships.
"This discipline combines elements of road and mountain bike, and takes place mainly on unsealed roads (gravel, forest tracks, farm roads, cobbles, etc). Races in the UCI World Series will be mass participation events."
Multiple former and current professional road riders have already taken part in gravel events with retired pros Ian Boswell, Laurens Ten Dam and Peter Stetina taking on the likes of EF Education-Nippo duo, Alex Howes and Lachlan Morton.
As well as this, the UCI have put more focus into the off-road forms of cycling including the relatively new sport of Snow Bike as well as a new classification in the mountain bike short track World Cup races.
The UCI President, David Lappartient , said: "Cycling continues to innovate, this time in off-road with the creation of a very interesting new ranking for mountain bike cross-country short track, the recognition of gravel – an additional and rapidly expanding discipline – the launch of a new team format in cyclocross and the exploration of new avenues for the development of snow bike."
Snow bike is essentially an off-shoot of downhill mountain biking, with riders racing on snow-covered descents in the mountains.
The UCI has not yet given a date for the confirmed calendar for the Gravel World Series and World Championships.
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