“Events must offer more than just competition”

3RIDES spoke with German world-class gravel pro Paul Voß on the occasion of the Aachen Qualifier race for the World Gravel Championship.

Photo above: © Studio_Pilz

Mr. Voß, how would you sum up your 2022 gravel season with the first UCI World Championship?

I am very satisfied with the season. At the premiere of the Red Bull Rio Grande in Texas, I unexpectedly celebrated a solo victory. At the biggest race in our scene, the Unbound in Kansas, I was one of the defining riders in the early lead group. The fact that there was a UCI World Championship for the first time was a nice development. I had a few points of criticism, for me the race at the World Cup in northern Italy was too flat, the gravel sections also seemed rather pieced together. But I don't want to overstate that. The guys from the road peloton were simply better in the World Cup, I have to acknowledge that without envy. You don't stand a chance as a gravel pro in a race like this against riders fresh from the Vuelta or the road world championships.

The world federation has now published the qualifying series for the next Gravel World Cup, with the 3RIDES in Aachen also a race in Germany is included. Will you be seen there?

Yes, I firmly intend to do that. I'm excited, because this race promises the typical feeling of the Belgian-Dutch spring classics, only on a gravel bike. I'm a fan of each race finding its own identity. This region embodies cycling history for me, especially on the Belgian and Dutch side. I was there a lot when I was still riding for NetApp-Endura. I'm sure that there will also be a lot of fans at the track.

Photo: © Kadir Celik

Will the race course in the border triangle of Germany, Belgium and France suit you?

I was already able to take a look at the planned route - it already looks like sport. The course is winding, there are many curves and short climbs. This should suit explosive drivers. The race promises to be exciting because driving technique will be in demand. For me it's then seven laps, which should be relatively crisp - because there we come to about 2,000 meters of altitude at just under 140 kilometers. I'm looking forward to seeing the track not only on the screen.

Are you planning a track visit?

The organizers of the 3RIDES approached me early on and I plan to not only ride in May, but also prepare well. We are currently talking about an appointment to take a closer look at the route together with Carolin Schiff at the beginning of the new year. Then it's easier to say something about the singletrack passages, for example.

Has this season, with the first UCI World Championships, brought the sport of gravel further forward?

You have to differentiate here. The Gravel scene is significantly larger, and it also exists independently of the UCI series. The biggest and most important race still remains Unbound in Kansas, USA. But competitive racing is growing fast, and UCI races are clearly one of the drawing cards. The qualifiers for the UCI World Championships have spurred a whole series of exciting competitions. I hope that the UCI will continue to expand this series, for example by adding an overall ranking throughout the series, in order to further increase the value of these competitions.

What makes a good Gravel event?

Gravel remains community. Events need to offer more than just competition. In the really successful races, starters without a license race with the best gravel professionals in the same race. But it's also about more than that, it's about a visually appealing route and being together on an event site where things are different from classic road races. This is where you're supposed to enjoy spending time - events like this, I think, are what make graveling so appealing.

Sponsoren / Partner