Jul 9, 2024 Canyon.com
Jul 9, 2024 Canyon.com

UCI Gravel World Championship and World Series 2024: Everything you need to know

As we build up to the 2024 UCI Gravel World Championship in October, the UCI Gravel World Series has already produced plenty of thrills and spills. Find out everything there is to know about the newest, coolest contest for the rainbow bands.

UCI Gravel World Championship and World Series 2024: Everything you need to know UCI Gravel World Championship in Valkenburg

The UCI created its Gravel World Championship in 2022, making it one of the newest disciplines to award a rainbow jersey to its top male and female athletes. Canyon’s track record in the contest so far is strong, but as we look to the 2024 Worlds in Flanders this autumn, what can we expect of the UCI’s season-long calendar of off-road excitement? 


2024 UCI Gravel World Series and World Championship in numbers

For 2024, the UCI Gravel World Series constitutes a whopping 25 events around the globe – all building steadily to the UCI Gravel World Championship (the 26th event) to be held this year in Flanders, Belgium on 5 & 6 October.  

There have been just two editions of the Gravel Worlds so far, both taking place in Veneto, Italy. Across men’s and women’s categories, Canyon has won 50% of the elite races. In 2022, Gianni Vermeersch won on his gravel-tuned road bike, the Ultimate CFR, while Kasia Niewiadoma secured last year’s women’s rainbow jersey with her second-gen Grail CFR

Niewiadoma overpowered a field of 88 finishers (of 110 starters) in the 2023 World Championship, while the men’s race saw 149 athletes complete the course.  

According to the official qualification system for the 2024 UCI Gravel World Championship, at each UCI Gravel World Series event all riders who finish in the top 25% of their category will qualify for the UCI Gravel World Championship

2024 UCI Gravel World Series and World Championship calendar

The UCI Gravel World Series serves as both a qualifying process and a build-up to the World Championship in October.  

Something of an outlier, Gravelista in Australia kicked off the qualifying races. Taking place in late October 2023, it happened just a couple of weeks after the 2023 Worlds, starting things off for the year to follow. From then, the regular racing began in April 2024, with events now coming thick and fast right through to September.  

While it’s billed as a ‘World’ Series, the 26 events are actually heavily concentrated in Europe. There are two rounds each in Australia and North America, one in South Africa and one in Kenya. There are no rounds of the 2024 series taking place in South America or Asia.  

If you’re looking to participate in a great gravel event and not worried about whether it’s UCI-approved, then check out our list of the five best gravel events in the world. One of the events featured in the list, the Migration Gravel Race, takes place in Kenya and is arranged to coincide with the country’s UCI World Series event, the Safari Gravel Race. That means competitors can take part in both events in a single trip if they so wish.

Canyon at the UCI Gravel World Series and World Championship 2024

In 2023, the women’s World Championship was won by Niewiadoma of Canyon//SRAM aboard her Canyon Grail CFR, which was a – at the time, unreleased – second generation model. The new Grail is now out and available for all to experience the same incredible performance. While it’s early days in the season yet, many fans will be hoping to see Niewiadoma defend her title at the World Championship later this season. 

On the men’s side in 2023, Alejandro Valverde rode his Canyon Grail to an impressive fourth place. Valverde has already qualified for the 2024 World Championship by virtue of his win in La Indomable, the Spanish World Series event.  

So far the UCI Gravel World Series 2024 has been going great for Canyon athletes, with Emma Norsgaard Bjerg winning Gravel Challenge Blaavands in Denmark in May to qualify for the World Championship, and Tiffany Cromwell taking out the Swartberg 100 back in April to also qualify for the elite women’s race. Sanne Cant of Fenix-Decuninck has also qualified on the strength of her results in the series so far without yet winning a race outright.  

On the men’s side, Greg van Avermaet and Petr Vakoc (both from Team Last Dance) have also qualified for the UCI Gravel World Championship by virtue of their strong performances in the World Series so far. 

Alejandro Valverde won the 2024 UCI Gravel World Series race, La Indomable, on April 22, 2024 Alejandro Valverde won the 2024 UCI Gravel World Series race, La Indomable, on April 22, 2024

2024 UCI Gravel World Series and World Championship routes

Each individual race in the UCI World Series has its own website and route information which can be found by visiting the series’ calendar page. The ‘typical’ length for the courses is between 100 and 150 kilometres, which might seem short when compared to an equivalent one-day road race. This is due to the lower speeds that most riders will move at over broken ground – particularly the more technical sections of a course.  

The UCI Gravel World Championship 2024 route is 136 kilometres, beginning in Leuven and exploring the Brabant Forest. In total, the course packs 1,080 metres of elevation gain.  

You can also dive deeper into the routes for the Gravel World Championship on this page, provided you can read Flemish.

What do the riders say?

Clearly a fan of the format, even if it was brand new to her, Niewiadoma said after her 2023 victory: “It was my first gravel race, and I had so much support here from Canyon and SRAM to prepare for today, and also Tiffany [Cromwell] answered many of my questions before the race. This win feels so amazing, and I'm really grateful for everyone who helped." 

Tiffany Cromwell, meanwhile, has praised the different vibe you experience at gravel races

“I love the atmosphere and camaraderie at gravel races. Everyone is there for a good time and there’s not the egos that you have in road racing. There’s also a lot less judgement and a real sense of community. I love that before and after the race, people just want to hang out and have a good time, enjoy beers together.”  

“The racing is both fun and challenging and I think it’s great that gravel is so inclusive and caters for everyone. You can be there to race and fight for the win, or you can simply just rock up with the plan to take your time and enjoy it together with your friends and just challenge yourself to get to the finish line. It’s a much more relaxed feeling than in road racing.” 

In 2023, Tiffany Cromwell won four gravel races, podiumed another twice and was tenth at the UCI Gravel World Championships In 2023, Tiffany Cromwell won four gravel races, podiumed another twice and was tenth at the UCI Gravel World Championships

What to expect at UCI Gravel bike races

One of the really cool things about gravel as a discipline is it remains (fairly) democratic. Yes, there are an increasing number of professionals in the sport, who either dip in and out when they have space in their road or mountain bike racing schedules, or make it their sole focus of the season. However, there are still a lot of regular cyclists taking part – particularly in the World Series events. And all it takes is one awesome top 25% performance at one of those for anyone – yes, anyone, regardless of whether they’re sponsored or signed to a pro team or not – can qualify for the World Championship.  

The gravel sections used in UCI Worlds courses in the past has been criticised for being a little too ‘easy’, with 2022 men’s winner Gianni Vermeersch taking the crown on a road bike, but there has been a move to roughen things up a bit in recent years, and across the whole World Series you will find a lot more bumpy stuff and technical riding. That means having the right gravel bike for the task becomes ever-more-important. We now offer a bike comparison tool so you can weigh up the relative merits of our different gravel bike options, the Grizl for rowdier riding, and the Grail for going fast.

How to watch the 2024 UCI Gravel World Series and World Championship

This question is a toughie to give a straight answer to! There are partial answers we can give based on last season, but things change often in cycling – and the experience of following racing live can be extremely fractured for fans.  

Unlike the UCI Road World Championships and UCI MTB World Championships where live TV coverage is widely available, the gravel side of the sport is still catching up when it comes to following along with the action. 

Our advice for fans desperate for a taste of the gravel action is to try and attend a race in person, while we wait for broadcasting to catch up and become commonplace.  

Kasia Niewiadoma won the 2023 UCI Gravel World Championships Kasia Niewiadoma won the 2023 UCI Gravel World Championships

How to watch the 2024 UCI Gravel World Championship

In 2023, the men’s UCI Gravel World Championship race was broadcast live, with Sporza showing it in Belgium, FloBikes having the rights in USA and Discovery (which included GCN+ at the time and Eurosport) in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe. The women’s race, however, was not broadcast at all. 

At the time, the UCI released a comment, after the omission of the women’s race deservedly provoked uproar. 

“L’Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has been informed by the Local Organising Committee of the 2023 UCI Gravel World Championship in Veneto (Italy) that today's Women Elite race will not be broadcasted live due to no TV production.” 

The UCI also indicated that women’s live coverage would become mandatory at future editions of the Gravel Worlds.  

How to watch the 2024 UCI Gravel World Series

Moving on to the events that make up the Gravel World Series, this is even trickier to pin down. Each event is run independently, and the ability of organisers to provide coverage depends a lot on local conditions and financial situation. In the main, it is not common for gravel events to have live streaming, as they are typically run on smaller budgets and often in far flung places away from reliable cell service.  

To use two events this year as examples, the Danish race Gravel Challenge Blaavands had live streaming in 2024, but it’s unlikely Safari Gravel in Kenya will any time soon. At present, the UCI is only mandating that the World Championships be streamed live, and not individual events in the World Series.  

Feel like dipping your toe into gravel cycling but not yet ready to take on the UCI Gravel World Series? Check out our guide to gravel.  

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