GCN Show: Kasia Niewiadoma discusses the spirit of gravel

We caught up with the recently crowned gravel world champion, plus the latest news from the world of cycling and an important lesson from Ollie Bridgewood’s mistake

Clock19:40, Wednesday 25th October 2023

Fresh off the back of winning the gravel world title at the beginning of October, Kasia Niewiadoma made the journey across to America to prove once and for all that she really is the new queen of gravel. The Canyon-SRAM rider was crowned World Champion in Veneto after a dominant performance but that wasn’t enough for some who claim that the real heart of gravel lies in America, where the discipline has undeniably flourished.

For many, to prove that you’re truly a gravel racer, you need to win an American gravel race. That’s exactly what Niewiadoma did at Big Sugar, the final act in the long American gravel season. Except, not satisfied with simply winning, the Polish rider destroyed the rest of the field to win by nine minutes and prove once and for all that she can mix it with the best.

Beyond being an incredible multi-disciplinary rider, we wanted to learn more about the Gravel World Champion, so we sent Alex Paton over to Big Sugar for the latest cutting-edge edition of ‘21 questions with’.

21 questions with Kasia Niewiadoma

GCN: Where does the Gravel World Championships victory rank in your list of achievements?

Kasia Niewiadoma: It’s a hard one, actually. I think it’s a solid top three, just because of the celebrations afterwards and I feel like the last victory happened in 2019 and for so long I was crossing the finish line with my head down because I would get second, third, or fifth or fourth. Being able to raise my hands this time, I don’t know why, this moment was glued in my memory. It definitely felt great and seeing Beth and Julia and my team there for me was very special.

What is your best ever day on the bike?

My best day on the bike wasn’t in a race, it was just an adventure I went on with my partner Taylor [Phinney]. We went exploring the world and we spent the whole day outside riding, having fun, jumping into the sea and just feeling like a kid.

It’s definitely not like one of those really ugly Classics in Belgium when it’s pouring with rain and you just fight for your life.

What’s the worst day you’ve had on a bike?

I think it was the Women’s Tour in 2019. It was the first stage. Just before arriving in the UK, I was kind of sick so I was hoping that I could recover before that, but then we spent like five hours in the pouring rain. And it was so slow because the race was slow and no one wanted to go hard from the start. It was a really long, wet day.

What would you most like to win?

That’s a hard one because there are a few of them. The first race that came to my mind was the Tour de France. When I think about the longer term, it’s the Olympic games.

What is your favourite coffee?

I love latte, I love a big cup of latte!

When you stop to have a coffee, what cake do you have with it?

I usually like a caramel slice or a tahini bar, made by myself, usually.

What is your perfect post-race meal?

It’s always a burger and fries with lots of ketchup, I’m a ketchup girl.

Do you wear leg warmers over your socks, or underneath them?

Underneath my socks.

Beer, wine or something else?

Definitely something else! Gin and tonic or Aperol Spritz in summer.

Aero or lightweight?

Lightweight.

Famous place to ride?

My hometown near the Tatra mountains. I have a lot of memories that were made there.

White or black shorts with your World Champion jersey?

Black shorts.

Do you obsess over bike set-up or just go and ride it?

Just go and ride it.

What’s better, road or gravel?

Road.

If you were president of the UCI for just one day, what would you do?

I would throw a nice party for all of the cyclists so that we could all bond and have fun together.

Short high-intensity intervals or long training rides?

Both.

Early morning yoga or hit the snooze button and go back to sleep?

Go back to sleep.

What motivates you to keep training and racing?

Losing.

As the second-ever gravel World Champion, can you explain to us what the true spirit of gravel is?

What I really like about gravel is that, before the race, everyone is chilled and cool-headed and relaxed. It feels in some ways like no one cares. The reality is everyone cares about the proper preparation and being ready, but they are cool about that. Then in the race, it’s very organised and prepared, and you feel like you can be focussed and concentrated. And then again after the race everyone is chilled.

What is the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?

I think to have fun on the bike and stop stressing.

What should we ask the next pro cyclist who we interview?

What their favourite meal is. But actually, there was already a question like that, the post-race meal one, so maybe their favourite song to listen to get them in the mood before a race.

Most importantly of all, who’s your favourite presenter?

Do I have a choice right now other than saying you (Alex)? Chloe (Alex’s wife).

Cycling shorts

Moving on from that blow to Alex’s ego, here’s all of the news from the last week.

Lesson of the week

This week on GCN, Alex Paton and Ollie Bridgewood embarked on an epic Mallorcan adventure, attempting to ride a full loop of the island and beat the time set by Ineos Grenadiers in the process.

Neither rider owns WorldTour-level power, so they instead turned to the world of marginal gains, going for a minimalistic approach to gain speed. Except that backfired when Ollie punctured and neither he nor Alex had a spare inner tube to hand.

Fortunately for them, Warren McCormack and his friends were passing by and generously saved the day.

It serves as a lesson to every cyclist that you should always carry puncture repair spares and essentials.

You can watch the full video below, and while we won’t spoil the outcome, you’ll be treated to one of the greatest-ever GCN bonks.

Hack or bodge

You can have your say on this week’s Hack/Bodge by clicking on the submission below and voting in the GCN app. And don’t forget to upload yours for a chance to be featured in a future show.

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This week on GCN

  • A closer look at the Tour de France and Tour de France Femmes routes
  • How to use your phone as a bike computer
  • Why are doctors prescribing cycling?
  • Science in Sport factory tour
  • Plus Chloe Paton takes on Big Sugar

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