BicycleVan der Poel is set to ride a road bike at the...

Van der Poel is set to ride a road bike at the Gravel World Championships

This weekend marks the inaugural UCI Gravel World Championships, yet despite the ever-growing abundance of gravel bikes available from the world’s biggest bike manufacturers, Mathieu van der Poel is set to ride a lightweight, semi-aero road bike for the 194km course, Canyon’s new Ultimate CFR. Choosing not to ride the two more gravel-specific bikes available to him, the Grizl and Grail

Images of the bikes and a video of Van der Poel in training ahead of the race show the bike fitted with a Shimano Dura-Ace groupset and wheels, eschewing his sponsor’s more gravel-specific GRX groupset. Throw in the same integrated carbon handlebar and stem and aside from the obvious difference in tyre choice, Van der Poel is on his usual road set-up, he even seems to have stuck with his road pedals and shoes.

He’s not the only one. A slew of images shared by Specialized confirms that Peter Sagan, Sina Frei and Sofia Gomez Villafane will be aboard the Specialized Roubaix, the endurance-focused road bike designed for – and named after – the cobbled roads of Northern France. 

specialized pathfinder tyre

A fast road wheel and gravel tyre combination (Image credit: Future)

The 140km and 194km female and male races this year feature around 30% asphalt and are a little more in line with Strade Bianche than anything rockier or more testing. Pro cycling is an arms race and no rider will want to feel they are on a slower bike than their competitors so perhaps road bikes with larger volume tyres fitted will be the order of the day. 

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