Lauren Stephens defended her Unbound Gravel title yesterday in Emporia, Kansas, winning the 100-mile gravel race with a time of 5:41:58. Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank teammate Emma Langley finished second behind Stephens about 10 minutes later, and Maddy Ward took sixth place.
Emily Joy Newsom opted for the 200-mile race, and finished a solid third after 12 hours and 30 minutes of racing through brutal winds and heat. Lauren De Crescenzo won the event with a time of 12:06.
“25 miles in, I was in a small group of the lead guys,” said Stephens about how she won the 100-miler. “At about mile 45, we went through a creek crossing and then had a steep rocky climb out. I came out of the front group there. A few miles later, I came up on a rider who had a puncture. We worked together and eventually picked up one more guy that I had finished with in 2019. Our group of three worked together really well. We looked out for each other on the hills and technical sections. The two guys I was with were in the same age group category, so they battled it out in the finish while I raced myself over the final mile or two.”
“This race was awesome,” Langley said. “It was a lot of battling position in the opening kilometres, and Lauren, Maddy, and I did a great job staying up near the front. That was especially important going into the first technical section. I was quite near the front, but there was a crash right in front of me that I couldn’t avoid, and I went down hard too. It took me a few minutes to collect myself and get going again, but the chase was on once I was back on the bike.
“I gave as much as I could, passing quite a few contenders until I came upon a fairly big group that was riding well together,” Langley continued. “Maddy and I left the checkpoint together and rode with several other riders through the Kansas crosswinds – the winds and hills were brutal! In the end, I came to the finish with one other male rider. I’m a little banged up from my tumble but so proud and impressed with how we all rode today. I’m officially hooked on gravel!”