Adam Blazevic: Gravel, going all in and carving out a place in the top-tier
This time last year Adam Blazevic was lining up one of the very first races of the UCI Gravel World Series in Nannup, Western Australia as a relative unknown, perhaps a little underestimated, and uncertain just what this foray into gravel racing would bring. Much has changed in 12 months, not just for the Australian rider but also for the series.
The series has stepped up to a new level in 2023, confirming its place in the race calendar with more and more fop riders stepping into the fray as well as more and more organisers putting their hands up to be included in the event. Blazevic too has now become a more established presence, parlaying an initial victory at the SEVEN gravel race in Nannup into a powerful opening year on the international gravel racing scene.
That means he now starts his new season on May 13 as anything but an unknown. He will be a closely watched given that he is not only defending champion, but also one of the most successful riders of the 2022 series.
“Last year was really the first season I started getting some results that were noticed,” said the 24-year-old who has spent many years competing at races in road, mountain bike and cyclocross but seems to have found a perfect skillset fit in gravel racing. “So this year I really want to continue to build on that, and show that I actually belong at that level and am able to repeat.”
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Repeating, let alone building on, 2022 is no small ask, given Blazevic managed to win two rounds of the series, plus took to the podium on another occasion. He also came over the line in the top ten in all but one of the World Series races he participated in – and that one miss was because a slashed tyre prevented him from finishing.
All that came in a year which started off with the Nannup Gravel Race to “just to see how it went”. “It went pretty well,” said Blazevic with characteristic understatement.
There is no doubt he can look back on his initial season of gravel with plenty of reason to be satisfied and little to regret.
“I just went for it last year,” Blazevic told Cyclingnews from his home-base of Melbourne, as he was ramping up his training toward a Nannup season debut on May 13. “I went all in on it and I can’t really be unhappy about anything.”
Even the first all important UCI Gravel World Championships, ending in a DNF could not provide a dampener, not when the 24 year old still walked away with a powerful indicator of progression.
“I got a little bit sick before the race and wasn’t able to finish but I was still front group of those 20 to 25 top tier world riders at the start so that was also a pretty big moment. You could see where I’d been able to get to in terms of form to be in a bunch with Mathieu van der Poel, Peter Sagan and Greg Van Avermaet.”
So what is the privateer rider – this year supported by Scott, SRAM, Zipp, Fi’zi:k, Pedal Mafia, Challenge, KASK and KOO – hoping to get from his second season once it kicks into full gear this weekend.
“I want to continue where I left off last year in the UCI Gravel Series, definitely aiming to be in the top of those races, and also get some new experiences in the US and hopefully work towards Worlds again.” said Blazevic.
Once the Western Australian event, which will host the UCI Gravel World Championships in 2026, has been run Blazevic will quickly be launching from familiar territory and into the unknown again as he takes on Unbound in the United States.
The distance at 200 miles, around 320km, will provide a stark contrast to the comparatively short and sharp Gravel Series races which are often not even half as long. The length is also at the other end of the spectrum to most of the international racing he has done outside gravel, from crits to cyclocross. That means Blazevic is going in with the attitude that he'll do the training and “get on the start line and assess from there”.
It will then be a quick turnaround from Unbound on June 3, with Blazevic racing the new European event, FNLD gravel, the week later. After that he will turning his focus to World Gravel Series events in Europe, then it is all eyes on the October 7 UCI Gravel World Championships, which will be held in Italy for a second year.
However, for now the focus is all on Nannup, where he enters the 125km course with more than 3,000m of climbing as defending champion. The Australian rounds so far of the Gravel World Series have treated Blazevic well – he has won both the UCI Gravel World Series races held in Australia so far.
There seems every chance he could add another Saturday as Blazevic has clearly found a discipline that suits in gravel and gravel, in turn, has found a new protagonist.