The gravel paradise of Girona was the scenario chosen to inaugurate the calendar during three exciting stages

The best specialists of the planet came to Sant Gregori to offer a superlative performance

The second edition of the Gravel Earth Series is already a reality. La Santa Vall inaugurated an ambitious calendar that will visit 13 countries over 20 events determined to catapult gravel to another dimension. Finally this sport has an international circuit that represents and respects the values of gravel and its athletes. Among them the Czech Petr Vakoc and South African Ashleigh Moolman, who reigned in the first event of the season to take the 750 points and, consequently, become the first leaders of the Gravel Earth Series.

The race of Sant Gregori, just five minutes from the Catalan city of Girona, proposed a challenge in stages dividing its program into three very different days. An agonizing prologue uphill of just over 6 kilometers with 350 meters of positive gain welcomed all participants. An itinerary of 72.5 kilometers with 630 meters of positive gain where only two previously marked sections were timed, was the innovative format of the second day. Finally, a classic linear stage of 116 kilometers with 1540 meters of positive gain closed a dream weekend. From Friday February 16 to Sunday February 18, all eyes of the international gravel community were on the Santa Vall.

There was no shortage of reasons. The Klassmark event, also promoters of the circuit, gathered a stellar starting grid. The Santa Vall is a Gravel Earth category event, but with a level of athletes equal or even higher than the Gravel Earth Global challenges; only five events have received this designation for their prestige and award 1000 points to the first classified. Nobody wanted to miss the start of a season that will be long and exciting. It should be remembered that the final ranking will only take into account the two best scores of the year, plus the result of the Gravel Earth Final. However, the spectacle that we have lived in the Santa Vall during these three days has been superlative.

In the women’s field, Ashleigh Moolman, sixth in the last Tour de France, transferred her skills from the road to the gravel terrain of the Santa Vall. She was the best from day one, where no one could overtake her on the tough agonizing Hill Climb ramps on Friday. Despite being a short and explosive distance, she achieved an income of about a minute over her main rivals that she defended during the stages of Saturday and Sunday, where she finished third and second respectively just seconds behind the winner. The victory of the second stage was for a magnificent Morgan Aguirre, who would finish the trilogy in second place less than a minute behindThe podium of the Santa Vall was closed by Klara Sofie Skovgård. Both the American and the Danish added two podiums and completed all the stages in the top four. This position in the overall was held by Dutch rider Geerike Schreurs. The winner of the third stage was just eleven seconds off the final podium.

Ashleigh Moolman, Morgan Aguirre, Klara Sofie Skovgård and Geerike Schreurs occupied all the podium places in the three stages, corroborating their excellent form. They were one point ahead of their rivals. They were many and of a high level. You only need to look at the final classification to realize it. The Polish Karolina Migon was fifth, while the American Emily Joy Newsom, the Spanish Clàudia Galicia, the German Svenja Betz, the Irish Emma Porter and the Canadian Gabby Traxler, completed a Top10 of high flights.

On the men’s side the script was similar, if not identical. This time the protagonist was Petr Vakoc. The Czech conquered the Hill Climb on Friday to obtain a first position that would accompany him throughout the weekend. It was not an easy task. The differences between all the candidates were minimal and the dance of positions was constant; the first nine finishers of the Santa Vall finished in a margin of only two and a half minutes. However, Vakoc always held firm despite the insistence of his rivals, especially Hans Becking. The Dutchman won the second stage and continued to catch him in the third, but it was not possible. He was second, just six seconds behind. David Lozano, third overall, also tried it but finished within twenty-five seconds of the champion.

All of the names of the weekend are dizzying. American Chad Haga and German Sascha Weber finished in the Top 5, while Dutchman Jasper Ockeloen, Italian Daniel Oss, Danish Asbjorn Hellemose, the flamboyant winner of the third stage, Belgian Seppe Rombouts and German Luis Neff were also honored at the closing ceremony by finishing in the top ten.

The level of athletes in the Santa Vall was worthy of the most important event of the Gravel Earth Series calendar. Nobody wanted to miss the start of a season that looks spectacular. The next race will be in Kenya, where the Safari Gravel will be held on March 10. In this second edition, the circuit incorporates countries such as Mexico, United States, Sweden, Denmark or Chile, to expand the values of the Gravel Earth Series around the earth and augur a good future for gravel while maintaining its essence and values.

1. Petr Vakoc (CZE) / Canyon Isadore – 5h08:26
2. Hans Becking (NED) / Buff Megamo MTB Team – 5h08m32s
3. David Lozano Riba (ESP) / Team Novonordisk – 5h08m51s
4. Chad Haga (USA) – 5h09m23s
5. Sascha Weber (GER) – 5h09m52s
6. Jasper Ockeloen (NED) / Canyon Sram Schwalbe – 5h10m42s
7. Daniel Oss (ITA) – 5h10m52s
8. Asbjorn Hellemose (DEN) / Swatt Club – 5h10m55s
9. Seppe Rombouts (BEL) / PAS Racing – 5h10m56s
10. Luis Neff (GER) / Rose Racing Circle – 5h11m46s

1. Ashleigh Moolman (RSA) / AG Insurance Soudal – 6h01m45s
2. Morgan Aguirre (USA) / Enough Cycling – 6h02m34s
3. Klara Sofie Skovgård (DEN) / PAS Racing – 6h03m09s
4. Geerike Schreurs (NED) / Specialized SD Worx – 6h03m21s
5. Karolina Migon (POL) / PAS Racing – 6h11m26s
6. Emily Joy Newsom (USA) / PAS Racing – 6h14m54s
7. Clàudia Galicia (ESP) / Groove Gravel – 6h16m06s
8. Svenja Betz (GER) / Reverb Cycling – 6h16m16s
9. Emma Porter (IRL) / Reverb – 6h17m03s
10. Gabby Traxler (CAN) – 6h18m17s

Download PDF