OKBET CYCLING | When Robin Froidevaux beats off more well-known competitors, everyone is taken aback, the Most Beautiful Gravel

OKBET CYCLING | When Robin Froidevaux beats off more well-known competitors, everyone is taken aback. The Most Beautiful Gravel

OKBET CYCLING | When Robin Froidevaux beats off more well-known competitors, everyone is taken aback. The Most Beautiful Gravel


While Robin Froidevaux (Tudor Pro Cycling Team) may have come from a history on the track, his lack of off-road expertise did not prevent him from winning the second edition of the Serenissima Gravel in Piazzola sul Brenta on his own.

The Swiss champion, who competes for Fabian Cancellara’s Tudor team, wasn’t the most famous rider in the tiny peloton that left Porto Barricata on the Po Delta on Friday morning. Mathieu van der Poel and newly crowned gravel world champion Gianni Vermeersch were the clear favorites. However, after making a shrewd play in the decisive stage, he more than justified his triumph.

Vermeersch and Van der Poel, of Alpecin-Deceuninck, played a key role in making the running on the lengthy stretch inland towards the finishing circuit around the 16th-century Villa Contarini, but Froidevaux, anticipating the gravel experts with a solo effort 10km from home, snatched the victory.

As the race entered its last 11 kilometers, Van der Poel was held up by an accident on the penultimate lap; he eventually caught up to the leading group just before they took the bell, but he and Vermeersch quickly found themselves in a disadvantaged position after Froidevaux’s shrewd assault.

When just 4 kilometers remained, Froidevaux had a lead of over half a minute over a chase group of about a dozen cyclists. Despite Van der Poel’s best efforts, Froidevaux’s lead was so slim that, by the time he passed under the flamme rouge, only a catastrophic error on his part could have prevented him from winning.

In the end, Froidevaux won by 11 seconds as he coasted in ahead of the rest of the field. Emils Liepins (Trek-Segafredo) beat Gianni Vermeersch (Lotto Soudal) in a sprint for second. Miguel ngel López (Astana Qazaqstan) continued his strong form from last weekend’s first-ever UCI Gravel World Championships by finishing sixth today, two places ahead of Van der Poel.

Froidevaux said, “That came as quite a surprise.” I’m neither a mountain biker or gravel expert, but I decided to take advantage of the situation and go for broke. Staying with the pack would have been difficult technically going up against the best in the race on the last lap. The plan was successful. To be honest, I didn’t really believe it until the last mile.

Prior to focusing on the road this season, Froidevaux won the European Madison title in 2019 and raced in the track event at the Tokyo Olympics. The 23-year-season old’s was derailed by bad luck when a concussion forced him to miss the Tour de Romandie, but he came back to win the top men’s road race at the Swiss Championships, just beating off Sebastien Reichenbach.

He had a nasty hit to the head and we didn’t let him ride for months,” Cancellara said to Cyclingnews after seeing the awards presentation. He was saddened by his longing for Romandie, but we encouraged him to “Look: learnings, keep calm.” Despite a difficult spring, he won the Swiss road championship.

Even after his first victory, Froidevaux was left frustrated because he hurt his finger in another incident during the Tour Alsace. He only got back to racing two days ago at the Giro del Veneto, but his surprising gravel victory has put a capstone on his impressive season. Next season, his club will go from the Continental to the ProTeam level, where he expects to see even more success.

It’s been about two and a half months since I hurt my fingertips. Froidevaux said, “I didn’t have a middle of the season, so I had to recuperate for about a month before starting training again. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am with this victory.

the sequence of events

Serenissima Gravel, the only gravel race for professional road cyclists, is in its second year and took place days after the inaugural World Championships in the discipline, therefore this year’s event lacked the same freshness as last year’s despite a much different course. The competition started in Jesolo and went all the way down the Venetian coast to Porto Barricata, increasing in distance to a whopping 195 kilometers, 80 percent of which were advertised as being off-road.

The distance made it reasonable to avoid the type of aggressive start that Astana had shown a year earlier, but the pace was nevertheless fast. Already tattered, the group of fifty riders split in two at about 70 kilometers, with Van der Poel and Vermeersch at the front.

Some tried to get away, like Geoffrey Soupe (TotalEnergies) and Robeet Ludovic (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB), while Vermeersch was trapped for a time and had to chase after them. As the race neared the finish line at Villa Contarini, a group of 17 remained together despite the constant barrage of assaults.

Mathieu and I were able to get ahead of the pack, and soon enough the whole bunch was in the lead. But I paid for those efforts at the halfway point of the race, and I was startled,” Vermeersch said. I thought I was hopeless, but with that rainbow jersey on, I was determined to fight back.

Van der Poel put in a savage effort to lengthen the race on the first of three circuits, but he was slowed by an accident with just over 20 kilometers to go, forcing him to race alone and at full speed in an attempt to catch the leaders. He got back, but it may have cost him something. Van der Poel decided to give his life for Vermeersch when Froidevaux disappeared. As the kilometers dwindled, the margin narrowed, but Froidevaux kept his cool on the gravel and cobblestones to come out on top.



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