Oct 8, 2023

Matej Mohoric is Gravel World Champion

At the second gravel world championships ever, Matej Mohoric rode to a surprise victory. The Slovene of Team BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS capped a strong race off with the win and the rainbow jersey aboard the new SILEX of MERIDA BIKES, edging out some strong competition.

When the first-ever gravel world championships were held a year ago in Northern Italy, there were plenty of discussions about the relatively easy course with plenty of paved sections. In 2022, the entire top 5 was not riding actual gravel bikes but aero road bikes. The Cycling World Federation UCI drew some lessons from this controversial premiere. At the second world championships held in Northeastern Italy's Veneto region, the men were treated to a course that packed 1890 meters of ascending into a distance of 169 kilometres. It all started with a loop around Lago Le Bandie, followed by a flat section of about 30 kilometres and a first hilly zone spiked with short but steep climbs. The loop around Pieve di Soligo measured about 50 kilometres and featured more climbs and some cobblestone sections. After another mainly flat loop of about 30 kilometres, a demanding 25 kilometres loop put the riders to a final test, with the last climb cresting with just 5 kilometres to go to the finish line.

As for the world championship race of the men, three riders from Team BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS were lining up to the race with Slovenes Matej Mohoric and Matevz Govekar and Croatian Fran Miholjevic. While the latter two were riding the SCULTURA ENDURANCE GR model, Mohoric opted for the new SILEX that MERIDA BIKES will only be unveiling to the public in detail on October 19th. The build of his bike goes to show how hard the course and some of the unpaved sections were, as Mohoric opted to ride Continental's Terraspeed tires in 40 mm width in a tubeless set-up, a compact crankset and a cassette with 11 to 34 teeth. From the start, the pace was very high, and about 40 riders separated themselves from all others. with Mohoric, Govekar and Miholjevic all making this crucial split and more and more riders getting dropped, with some big names and pre-race favourites among them.

After an attack from Matevz Govekar had been brought back, Matej Mohoric went on the attack with 70 kilometres to go, joining forces with Florian Vermeersch and Connor Swift. This trio quickly expanded its lead until it stood at 4 minutes. Matej Mohoric had scouted the final 40 kilometres carefully beforehand and banked on this demanding part of the course to decide the race in his favour. He intended to use the tricky and unpaved descents to capitalise on his bike handling skills and make his weight count on the climbs, which worked out perfectly. Due to the high pace that Mohoric set on the climbs, first Swift and then Vermeersch lost contact. Even a slip on the final unpaved descent could not keep Mohoric from winning, and the Slovene crowned his strong season with the gravel world championship title.

"I'm super proud of this achievement. The feeling is great, and I had one of the best days of my life on the bike - I felt very strong and could make full use of my background in mountain bike racing on this course", an overjoyed Matej Mohoric said after finishing. This outcome is a dream scenario for MERIDA BIKES as well, seeing the world championship race being won on its new SILEX gravel bike that is only going to be presented to the public in detail in ten days' time.

1. Matej Mohoric, SVN, in 4:52.56 hours
2. Florian Vermeersch, BEL, + 0.42
3. Connor Swift, GBR, + 3.39

Photos: Sprint Cycling Agency