Elite Gravel Series “Raises the Bar 100%” for Local Impact | Gas


A new era in gravel cycling is dawning and its epicenter is Emporia.

That’s the general consensus at Life Time following this week’s announcement of the Life Time Grand Prix, a new six-race series for elite cyclists. The lineup of events includes established events like Unbound Gravel, Big Sugar Gravel and the Leadville Trail 100 MTB, and adds three new races to the mix as men and women from various disciplines compete for a purse of $ 250,000. at the end of the series.

Prizes will be awarded up to 10th place on the basis of a point system. At the end of the Life Time Grand Prix, the riders’ best five results out of the six possible events will be tallied, giving competitors the choice of skipping one event or running all six and taking points for their best performances. The riders with the most points at the end of the series will be the winners.

“I think what Life Time is really going to do with this series is put American cycling on the map and increase interest in us, so to speak,” said Kristi Mohn, director of marketing. “In the United States, we haven’t seen a real fandom around cycling since Lance Armstrong. We hope this really brings the excitement back to the gravel.

Unbound, she said, has been a leader in this field for the past 15 years. Now there is a chance to level up.

“I just hope our community can understand the real impact of this and be very excited about what this will mean for our start and finish line,” said Mohn. “Every day, the athletes will line up with these incredibly talented pros at the start line. I just think it’s gonna be really great that the next level of American cycling takes place in Emporia, Kansas.

Marketing director Michelle Duffy said the Grand Prix series has been in the works since Life Time bought the race in 2018. The idea was to create a “massive” event that brought together the “biggest names in cycling in small communities across the country “.

“We’ve been there for a year,” she said. “Unbound was obviously going to be there for us because it’s just the pinnacle of dirt racing in the world. I think it’s one of the must-sees.

While some of the lineup will change each year, Duffy said Unbound is one of the events that will forever be a part of the Life Time Grand Prix. And the response around the world has been overwhelming, she said.

“You never know how it’s going with the big announcements, how they’re going to go and it’s been phenomenal across the country and around the world,” she said. “We had media successes from Asia and Europe, then of course from the United States and Canada. The most important feeling is: “This is exactly what American cycling needed. So we’re really excited about that.

It’s hard for Mohn not to get upset when she talks about it. She got involved in what was then DK in 2008 and already had a goal of seeing gravel cycling become mainstream.

“It’s almost hard to believe we’re at the point where this is happening,” she said. “It’s pretty exciting.”

Mohn said cycling is appealing because it is accessible; anyone can register to participate in Unbound or Leadville in Leadville, Colorado. This is what makes the Life Time Grand Prix unique compared to other elite events.

“There is no other sport where you can do this,” she said. “You can’t just play basketball with Magic Johnson. I think it’s great that our starting line is open, and part of the reason there are only these 40 athletes – 20 men and 20 women – is because we want to leave the availability there for your everyday athlete. It creates that connectivity, it continues to build community, it encourages young cyclists and hopefully families to get out and be active. It continues to focus on all the things that I think are super important and what cycling can bring to it.

Duffy agreed and stated that Life Time always wants to increase the excitement for the everyday athlete.

“The event will always be for everyone,” she said, adding that the luck for someone who has trained to cover 200 miles to line up next to a seasoned professional racer is something which does not happen everywhere.

“Life Time is proud to play a role in the changing landscape of professional and recreational cycling in the United States. After many years of declining attendance, we are experiencing a wave of growth, both in the amateur and professional fields, particularly in our gravel and mountain biking events, ”said Kimo Seymour, President of Media and Events at Life Time, in a Liberation. “Thanks to the Life Time Grand Prix, we are delighted to offer an opportunity for professional cyclists to realize their potential at the national level, and for cycling fans to be able to engage with these athletes.”

Mohn said she hopes the announcement will help allay rumors about Unbound’s departure from Emporia.

“On the contrary, it’s just another sign that Life Time is invested in continuing to engage with this community,” she said.

On top of that, there are the ongoing economic impacts and exposure – more than one weekend a year.

“We’re putting Emporia on an even bigger international map as a place to come and ride,” Mohn said. “Our community is going to have so many eyes on this. Who has never thought that this would really happen at the level of the Tour de France? Emporia, Kansas is going to be one of those communities that gets absolutely highlighted. … I speak every year.

“If you want to come ride on gravel and you don’t participate in the event or you can’t do it that week, you’re still going to stop here and check out those gravel roads. You are going to check out the Unbound Gravel course on their website. It’s a huge impact and it’s all dollars that are spent here. They may be small dollars, but they add up. Emporia has truly become a gravel destination and that only raises the bar 100%.

Duffy said the Life Time team are excited about 2022’s UnBound.

“We are delighted to develop the Expo bigger than it has ever been before, we are expanding the start lines more than they have ever been before,” she said. “There is a lot of positive momentum for 2022.”

The programming of six events includes:

F April 7-10: ATV Marathon Race at the Life Time Sea Otter Classic presented by Continental Tire in Monterey, California.

F June 4: 200 miles Garmin UNBOUND Gravel presented by Craft Sportswear at Emporia

F July 9: 70 mile Crusher in the Tushar presented by The Creamery in Beaver, Utah

F August 13: Stages Cycling Leadville Trail 100 MTB in Leadville, Colorado.

F September 17: 40 mile Chequamegon MTB presented by Trek in Cable, Wisconsin.

F October 22: 100 miles Life Time Big Sugar Gravel in Bentonville, Ark.

“Each of the events that make up the Grand Prix is ​​unique in its own way – the courses, the location, the crowd around it – they all carry something unique,” ​​said Duffy. “That’s what makes this series so special. We’re really excited to be able to include the Emporia community within this.

Interested runners can apply online at lifegrandprix.com. Riders will be selected based on a range of criteria including, but not limited to, their curriculum vitae and past performance, their interest in being part of the Life Time Grand Prix and how the rider contributes to develop cycling in the United States. through their activities.

The application window opened on November 22 and ends on December 6. Accepted runners will be notified by personal phone call from Life Time by December 10th. Events included in the Life Time Grand Prix may rotate annually. Individual events offering scholarships will continue to offer scholarships in addition to the Life Time Grand Prix award.


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