More gravel racing ahead in 2024 for new European champion Lorena Wiebes

Lorena Wiebes after claiming the European Gravel title
Lorena Wiebes after claiming the European Gravel title (Image credit: Getty Images)

The newest European Championships cycling jersey is likely to get a solid showing out on the gravel roads in the new year, with Lorena Wiebes confirming that her foray into the discipline is more than a passing phase.

“I have left room in the race calendar to compete in these gravel races. It was a great experience right from the start," said Wiebes in a media conference ahead of Saturday's women's elite race in the UCI Gravel World Championships, which was taking place just a week after the SD Worx road sprinter claimed the European title in the discipline in Belgium. "I train with this bike a lot and I really like it."

In fact, the SD Worx sprinter's ventures in gravel racing began well before the European Championship race, stepping out in the 3Rides Gravel World Series race in Germany in May and heading straight to the podium with a third place. Then it was another step up at the European Championships race as while she finished second behind experienced cross-over rider Tiffany Cromwell, but the Australian rider was not eligible for the title.

"The race went almost completely as planned," said Wiebes in a question and answer session put out on Instagram by her SD Worx team. "Somewhere in the last loop I punctured which caused a lot of pressure loss in my front tyre. Otherwise, I would have loved to try to join Tiffany Cromwell's attack. But it was a great experience all round.”

An experience that has left her looking for more, as the rider who is also at home in cyclocross races said she relished the combination that gravel racing presented as "the variety in the gravel races appeals to me" and she also sees it as good training for the road.

“It was a great year already to wear the European champions jersey on the road. And now I’m looking forward to race next year some gravel races in it," said Wiebes. "For sure I will train now more on the gravel bike to wear the jersey. The jersey always gives a little bit of extra motivation to go out and train.”

Still, before the attention turns to next season, there is another key jersey up for grabs in Italy and Wiebes will certainly not go unnoticed at Saturday's 140km rainbow jersey race, with 1660m of elevation gain, as it works its way from the Lago Le Bandie start to the finish line in Pieve di Soligo.

“I did already 2 recons, on Wednesday alone & on Friday with the team," said Wiebes. "The last 30km are tough steep climbs. I expect it will be a very tough race and the strongest riders will be left.”

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