USA Cycling announce teams for UCI Gravel Worlds

Swenson, Stephens, Skarda, Lamperti, Vermuelen and McElveen among the 23 riders to make the cut

Clock21:09, Monday 18th September 2023
Peak season sees the pros getting ready for the UCI Gravel World Championships

Courtesy of USA Cycling

With the second annual UCI Gravel World Championships on the horizon, USA Cycling has announced their teams for the race.

Leading the two squads are some of the biggest names in off-road racing, including Keegan Swenson, Lauren Stephens, Luke Lamperti and Alexis Skarda.

“USA Cycling is sending a team of 13 Elite Men and 10 Elite Women who will battle for the coveted Elite World Title,” USA Cycling announced in a press release on September 18th.

Along with the names of the team, USA Cycling specified the criteria for the team’s selection.

“As part of the UCI’s Cycling for All initiative, the Gravel World Championships qualification process is multi-faceted. Riders can qualify for their age group by finishing in the top 25% of one of the Trek UCI Gravel World Series events. Additionally, riders who won their National Championship category at the 2023 National Championships were also nominated, including the top three of the elite races.”

The UCI Gravel World Championships will take place in Veneto, Italy, on October 7 for the women and October 8 for the men. The elite men will race 169km and 1,890 metres of vertical climbing, and the elite women’s course is 140km with 1,660 metres of climbing.

For both the men and the women, the teams have many more of the big names in North American racing who skipped last season’s World Championship.

Lauren Stephens and Alexis Skarda take the reins for the American women

While the women might not have the best gravel rider on the North American circuit in their midst – LifeTime Grand Prix winner Sofia Gomez Villafañe will race for Argentina – they do have a deep squad of talent.

Elite Women’s Gravel National Champion – and the winner of what is the original “Gravel Worlds” in Nebraska, which has run annually since 2010 – Lauren Stephens (EF EDUCATION-TIBCO-SVB) will be leading the charge along with fellow road racers Heidi Franz (DNA Pro Cycling) and Emily Newsom (Roxo Racing).

Joining the road racers are a slew of very capable off-road professionals. Sarah Sturm is returning for her second UCI Gravel World Championship while the breakthrough rider on this year’s LifeTime Grand Prix, Alexis Skarda, could be one of the best bets from the American team. Another new rider on the scene with the capacity for a surprise is Crystal Anthony who will be one to watch after her bronze medal performance at the inaugural Gravel National Championships.

Elite Women

  • Morgan Aguirre
  • Crystal Anthony (Liv Racing Collective)
  • Heidi Franz (DNA Pro Cycling)
  • Emily Newsom (Roxo Racing)
  • Paige Onweller (Trek/WTB/ABUS/HED/SRAM)
  • Lauren Stephens (EF EDUCATION-TIBCO-SVB)
  • Alexis Skarda (Santa Cruz Bicycles)
  • Katherine Sheridan
  • Kyleigh Spearing
  • Sarah Sturm (Specialized/ Rapha/ Wahoo)

Keegan Swenson and Luke Lamperti lead the charge for the men

Leading the men’s team is, without question, Keegan Swenson. The American has won all but one major off-road race he has started this year. His only loss came to another member of the UCI Gravel World Championship team, Alexey Vermeulen, who won the Chequamegon stop on the LifeTime Grand Prix just last weekend. Brennan Wertz,  Zach Calton, Tobin Ortenblad, Ethan Overson and Payson McElveen join Swenson and Vermeulen as the top full time gravel racers on the team.

Two other interesting names on the list are the current U.S. Criterium National Champion and future member of Soudal-Quick Step, Luke Lamperti (Trinity Racing) and Artem Shmidt (Hagens Berman Axeon). Shmidt is a promising first-year U23 rider who was a top-five finisher last year at the UCI Road World Championships, while Lamperti has become a winner at the pro level even before taking the step to the WorldTour next year.

“It’s really exciting to do something different to finish off the season, I am super excited,” Lamperti told GCN. I have always been into mountain biking and things like that. I haven’t done much gravel racing but I am looking forward to doing Worlds.”

While Lamperti has little experience on gravel, he is certainly one of the most promising young Americans and has experience racing mountain bike World Cups along with his road racing. Whatsmore, last spring Lamperti was able to win one of the early season Grasshopper races on a road bike, ahead of Wertz, a fellow national team selection. Needless to say, it seems like his skills are well up to snuff.

“We have quite a few good guys going from the United States so I think quite a few guys can go for a good result,” he said. “We’ll see what we can do, I don’t know  where I stack up against the gravel guys but there are a few high level road guys going so it should be tactical as well.”

Elite Men

  • Zach Calton
  • Ian Kutzleb
  • Luke Lamperti (Trinity Racing)
  • Andy Lydic (BMC)
  • Payson McElveen (Allied Cycle Works)
  • Justin McQuerry (Team Novo Nordisk Development)
  • Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz, SRAM, htSQD),
  • Ethan Overson (Pinarello)
  • Artem Shmidt (Hagens Berman Axeon)
  • Keegan Swenson (Santa Cruz, SRAM, htSQD)
  • David Van Orsdel
  • Alexey Vermeulen (Jukebox - ENVE)
  • Brennan Wertz (Mosaic Cycles)

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