Emily Newsom (TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank) has compared her experience racing Unbound Gravel 200 with that of childbirth. A professional cyclist and mother, Newsom secured third place behind winner Lauren De Crescenzo (Cinch Cycling) and runner-up Amity Rockwell (Pinarello Scuderia) covering the 206.8-mile race in 12:30:52.
“I’ve given birth to a child. This was the first race that was comparable to having a kid,” Newsom said following the event, which ran through the Flint Hills of Kansas on Saturday.
TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank lined up three riders; Emma Langley, Lauren Stephens and Maddy Ward, to contest the 100-mile race, with Stephens taking the victory. Newsom was the only rider from the Continental Women’s road racing team to contest marquee 200-mile event.
Newsom arrived fresh from a win at Gravel Locos in May, and among a short list of favourites that also included De Crescenzo and Rockwell, along with Alison Tetrick, Rebecca Fahringer, Oliva Dillon, Shayna Powless, and Andrea Dvorak.
“I am enjoying the gravel scene so much, and with my current form being quite good, I thought why not?” Newsom said ahead of the event. “Why not challenge myself in a way that I have not done yet, and see what my body can do!”
At the first checkpoint, 68.3 miles into the 206.8-mile contest, De Crescenzo was riding alongside teammate Flavia Oliveira, with a four-minute advantage over Newsom and Whitney Allison, with Shayna Powless and Rockwell another two minutes back.
As the race unfolded, however, De Crescenzo and Newsom ended up riding together, and passing Oliveira. De Crescenzo then took the solo lead after the second checkpoint at mile 155.8, while Rockwell moved up to second place, leaving Newsom to ride in for third at the finish line in Emporia.
It was Newsom’s first experience at one of the most infamously challenging gravel races in the US, and while she said it was really tough, she would also come back to race it again.
“The whole event was great. I’m not sure how I feel about 200 miles, for me personally though, but the whole event was well put together. I was amazed by the gravel,” Newsom said.
“I was not expecting some of it and thought, ‘wow, they are really sending us down this – crazy.’
“If you had shown me a picture of that and said, ‘oh, you’re going down that,’ I don’t know if I would have come. But, racing it – I realised I could do it – and it was pretty cool. I enjoyed it a lot. I want to come back and do better at the technical stuff.
“Also, I really liked the whole vibe because everyone was excited, the whole town was excited, that party-feel with music, it was fun.”