Matej Mohoric raced to victory at the second-ever UCI Gravel World Championships yesterday. Arriving solo at the finish line in Pieve de Soligo, Italy ahead of defending champion Gianni Vermeeersch and Connor Swift.
Being a member of the Bahrain Victorious World Tour team means Mohorič raced on Merida frames and the Slovenian rode what appears to be a brand new and unreleased version of the brand’s gravel bike, the Silex. Cyclingnews managed to take some shots of the winning bike at the end of the race.
The equipment and tech narrative in the run-up to last year’s race was different with plenty of riders opting to use road bikes fitted with gravel tyres in a search for all-out speed. This year’s course in the Veneto region of Northern Italy posed more of a technical challenge for competitors as well as rougher terrain and we outlined a lot of these in our comprehensive tech preview a few days before the event.
Matej Mohorič is noted as being a rider with an eye for detail and for optimising some of his road bike setups to try and extract as much speed as possible. He’s also the rider who very nearly made the road cycling world explode for a few days after winning a monument using a dropper seatpost.
Mohorič chose not to ride the Scultura Endurance GR gravel bike which Merida released in June, and instead looks to have raced on a new version of the Silex; more of a gravel all-rounder with an eight-model range currently. Perhaps this new frame is a racier version. Either way, a World Title is never a bad start for any new bike before it’s launched officially.
The frame doesn’t look like an all-out gravel aero offering, with a round seatpost and handlebar. There are dropped seatstays at the rear but they aren’t extreme, though they are a different shape to anything in the current Silex range. Mounting points can also be seen on the fork legs and top tube of the bike which again signal bikepacking or adventuring capabilities.
The new Silex frame may appear to look a little more rounded than some aggressive gravel race bikes but Mohorič’s setup is definitely focused on performance. The Slovenian used a Dura-Ace 2x groupset, an 11-34T cassette at the rear and the lowest chainring combination he could have had at the front was 34-50T….