Adam Roberge won the physical battle at last weekend’s Gravel Locos 150 in Hico, Texas, but in the process he has re-opened the gate to the arguments about pack racing and road tactics becoming more prevalent in gravel races.
Like the uneven terrain that is expected in the alternative, off-road races, the definition of the “spirit of gravel” is not firm and resolute but Roberge found himself coming under criticism for employing road-like tactics in a race where a relatively large group stayed together to contest the finish.
“I cannot help but feel that I am being unfairly singled out for using tactics that all cyclists implement to a certain level,” Roberge said on Instagram.
“Like any sport, Gravel requires a blend of physical, technical and tactical skills. Suppose we choose to value physical and technical abilities alone. In that case, we can organize gravel time trials (which I’m not opposed to), but when we participate in mass start racing, winning necessitates a mix of physical, technical and tactical aptitude.
“Competition is about growing together, and the more we challenge ourselves using all our tools – physical, technical, and tactical – the more we better ourselves.”
Saturday’s showdown in the Lone Star State became a slugfest for riders honing their last-minute setups for Unbound Gravel in Emporia, Kansas on June 4.
In the final stretch of racing, after putting 155 dusty miles behind him, Roberge rode away from a large front pack of contenders to score his first win in three tries on the La Loca course. A little more than 30 seconds later, Paul Voss led a group of 10 riders across the line for second place, with Ivar Slik charging behind to take third place ahead of Alex Howes.
Gravel Locos Hico is where Roberge began his gravel career three years ago, and he had mixed emotions about his victory, calling it “especially great”. However, several days after the victory, he took to Instagram to address issues related to race tactics and how riders may or may not share the workload in a group, saying he “had been reluctant to address this issue” but “in recent days, the issue has been reopened, and I fear it will impact my career and reputation due to the very one-sided argument being portrayed”.
“Utilizing tactics and strategy doesn’t contradict what makes Gravel unique. It doesn’t undermine the nurturing of a tight-knit community or deter one from befriending competitors. I expect my competitors to do everything within their power to…
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