If you want to know who the next champions in gravel and dirt are going to be, consider what went on these last couple of weeks, first in Val del Sole, Italy at the UCI World MTB Championships and then in our own backyard, at the Vermont Overland in Windsor, Vt. .
In Italy, the spotlight was on Chris Blevins, the 23-year-old from Durango, who took the cross-country short track race, becoming the first American to win a UCI World MTB Championship since John Tomac did in 1991.
Four Vermonters were scheduled to race at the UCI World Mountain Bike Championships in Italy. While competing in a training race, Lea Davison, who has won silver at the Worlds before, suffered a bad concussion. The top American woman in cross country was Mazie Hayden, the woman from Pittsfield who has competed in both skier cross and downhill mountain biking on the international level, has had a recurring shoulder injury and pulled out before finishing.
But in the Junior Olympic event, American Brayden Johnson finished fifth and the next two U.S team members were Carson Beard in 18th and his twin brother Austin who moved up from 65th on the first start lap to 27th. It was the first international race for the twins, 17, from Middlesex, Vt., whom we first profiled in 2015 in Meet The Dirt P.A.C.K.
On a rainy morning of August 29, 950 racers toed the line at the start of the Vermont Overland in Windor, the 54-mile gravel race featuring 7,000 feet of climbing and =seven sectors of “Vermont pavé (unmaintained class four public roads). To no one’s surprise, Ian Boswell of Peacham took the win. Boswell (profiled in our current issue) recently beat a number of gravel pros to win the Belgian Waffle Ride in Asheville, N.C. and Unbound, the Kansas 200-mile classic.
But right behind him, in second was a 15-year-old from Pittsfield, AJ August of Pittsford, NY and Lance Haidet of California. August is the junior national time trial champion for his age group and clearly someone to watch.
The top female finisher was Maghalie Rochette of Ste-Adele, Canada with a time of 3:16 followed by Maude Farrell of San Francisco and Caitlin Berstein of Reno.
Perhaps the other rising star to keep an eye on was the Vermont Overland’s new owner/producer. A former top junior cyclist turned filmmaker, Ansel Dickey took over running the gravel classic from Peter Vollers. At just 26, he’s already made his filmmaking/photography company Vermont Social into one of the go-tos in cycling with clients such as Wahoo.
And he pulled off the Vermont Overland, despite the rain, without a hitch. On top of that, he announced at the start to the crowd waiting on their bikes that he was getting hitched, to his longtime girlfriend and Woodstock native, Gertrude Suokko.
The next generation of cycling is going to be one to watch.