Unbound 2021 recap: Peter Stetina takes 3rd place
In early June, racers from around the world descended on the dusty dirt roads of Emporia, Kansas. Unbound is one of the hardest races in the world, an unforgiving 200+ miles of gravel. When the dust settled, Canyon rider and self proclaimed “gravel ruiner”, Peter Stetina, emerged on the podium securing 3rd place overall.
As the sun set on 10+ hours of racing, each athlete was able to celebrate a day of miraculous self-accomplishment. Every rider leaves Kansas with a harrowing tale of perseverance, written in dust and mud.
Aboard the newly released Grizl CF SLX, conquered over 200 miles of treacherous terrain in just over 10 hours of racing.
The 200-mile race is mostly self supported, with riders expected to bring enough food, water, and tools to last between two checkpoints, at miles 69 and 156 (with a neutral water-only stop at mile 126).
Competing in Unbound requires balancing speed, logistics, and a healthy dose of luck. For this year's race, Peter Stetina used a custom Grizl CF SLX, fitted with extra nutrition storage and aero bars.
Unbound is arguably the hardest gravel race in the world—over 200 miles of jagged gravel roads present the ultimate cycling challenge to the women and men competing for the title as regents of gravel.
Canyon-supported endurance racer and mult-time US National Champion mountain bike racer Jeremiah Bishop overcame a myriad of mechanicals, heat, and exhaustion to claim an incredible 8th place finish among WorldTour veterans in only his second attempt at the epic event.
Unbound first-timer (and current Alpen-Fenix rider) Eddie Anderson battled a front flat tire—riding on the rim for over 20 miles—to triumph over adversity and claim 17th just ahead of fellow Canyon-supported Unbound freshman Alexey Vermeulen, hot on his wheel in 18th overall and ultimately conquering a seemingly unrelenting day of mechanic and physical challenges.
Always a war of attrition, even the most well prepared athletes are at the whims of Unbound. Despite a strong start, Ryan Petry crashed out of the race at mile 55, and was taken for medical examination. Former Junior DH World Champion, Kathy Pruitt, fought the sweltering summer sun as best she could, but ultimately succumbed to the heat at mile 130. Coming hot off the tarmac at the Giro D’Italia, Movistar rider Matteo Jorgenson, suffered 3 flats and exhausted his final Co2 cartridge and innertube at mile 135. Stephen Mull suffered an irreparable sidewall tear, forced to limp on his rim between miles 45 and 68, ultimately forfeiting to mechanical failure soon thereafter.
Isabel (Iz) King, racing on her hallmark orange Grail CF SLX, donned a race number for the first gravel race of her life. Jumping directly into the deep end of gravel racing, Iz finished an impressive 8th place in the stacked women's field.
Iz describes her experience racing Unbound best: "Holy hell. It’s hard to describe in words how gnarly this race is. I definitely did not fully comprehend what I was getting into."
It’s hard to describe in words how gnarly this race is. I definitely did not fully comprehend what I was getting into.
What Iz accomplished at Unbound embodies everything Canyon looks to inspire in riders. Unbound isn't just a chance to challenge one's self; Unbound is a chance to celebrate the competitive spirit that pushes each rider to accomplish something incredible. Riding is both the medium and the message. Inspiring riders to ride is the mission at Canyon Bicycles and we couldn't be prouder of our community who showed up to ride with us on that day.