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A Tough Unbound Gravel 200 for Greg Van Avermaet and Matej Mohorič

a man wearing a helmet and sunglasses
Tough Day at Unbound for Van Avermaet and MohoričDan Hughes / Life Time

Heading into this year’s Life Time Unbound Gravel, there was all kinds of chatter around cycling giants Greg Van Avermaet and Matej Mohorič, who were set to compete in the elite men’s 200-mile race. The Olympic gold medalist and the UCI Gravel World Champion, both renowned figures in professional road cycling, were unexpected yet exciting additions to the legendary gravel race in Emporia, Kansas. Fans and analysts alike were eager to see if these WorldTour veterans could challenge gravel racing stars like Keegan Swenson and the experienced squad of Dutch riders who have made Unbound a staple in their racing calendar.

Formerly of the AG2R Citroën Team, Van Avermaet, the 39-year-old Belgian and former Paris-Roubaix winner now racing gravel for Team Last Chance, was certainly a favorite going into Unbound. After an all-day battle, Van Avermaet took seventh place behind winner Lachlan Morton (EF Education-EasyPost), who took the win from a two-man breakaway with Chad Haga (PAS). Even though the Belgian did quite well considering the competition, he felt he could have done better.

“I had two flats really early,” he told Cyclingnews after the race. “So it was really annoying because you see the peloton in front of you, and you know that they are saving a little bit, especially the favorites, and you’re there alone, chasing back. That’s annoying. But it’s like it is. That killed my race, I think.”

Immediately after his race, when asked if he’d return next year, he said it was too soon to think about that. “That’s not the best moment to ask that, I think. If you ask everybody now, the answer is always going to be ‘no’.”

a group of people riding bikes on a dirt track
UCI Gravel Champion Matej Mohoric of Bahrain-Victorious leading a chase group at the 2024 Unbound Gravel 200.Dan Hughes / Life Time

The 29-year-old Bahrain Victorious rider didn’t have quite as much luck as Van Avermaet. The UCI Gravel World Champion and winner of several Grand Tour stages was forced to abandon the race after multiple punctures and a cracked rim. But Mohorič didn’t let his bad luck dampen his mood.

“Now we go the short way to the second checkpoint, and then we get a shower and something nice to eat,” Mohorič said after it was clear that his race was over.

Along with his teammates Matevž Govekar and Łukasz Wiśniowski, the Slovenian joked, “We are going to stick to road racing, guys.” But he also enjoyed the circumstances as much as possible. “It’s a beautiful day for cycling, beautiful weather, not so beautiful surface, could be more smooth. It’s pretty rocky, and my sidewall doesn’t like it, but hopefully, the second tube of the day will hold even though I cracked my rim hitting a rock.”

All three Bahrain riders were in good spirits with lots of laughing and joking about their possible return to the race next year.

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