With the Unbound 2021 Lottery currently open we thought it was a good time to reveal these never before seen photos from the Pure Gravel Archives. Pure Gravel was there on the ground documenting and reporting as the race unfolded in 2019. The 2019 Unbound (formerly known as the Dirty Kanza) had the most impressive solo break in the young history of gravel. At Little Egypt Rd, with 105 miles to go, Colin Strickland broke away from the lead group of gravel hitters and world tour pros. Below is a series of images that Pure Gravel took documenting this impressive feat.
This first photo is the one you may have seen in Road Bike Action. It also graced the label of Rouleur Brewing’s third anniversary ale. Colin told us that he made multiple attacks, and the pack kept reeling him back. Finally, one stuck. Indeed, there is a similar photo on Velonews showing an attack at the very beginning of Little Egypt Road. Our photo was taken near the end of Little Egypt and we think it is THE break.
Another interesting tidbit, is that there is drone footage of this photo being taken. 11:30 into Wahoo’s recent "Frontiers” video featuring Colin Strickland, you can see the Pure Gravel Photo crew posted up at the top of the last little rise of Little Egypt Road. (Screen cap below). Fun!
Here now, for the first time, we have 4 more photos from this sequence.
Stories of races like this have a way of growing and changing over time, but the story we heard was that when Colin made his break, Ted King and the other gravel bros wanted to chase because they knew how strong Colin is; but the world tour riders didn’t want to work to chase down some guy making a doomed solo break with 100 miles to go. To be fair, we ALL thought the break was doomed. Nobody in the Pure Gravel crew gave Colin a chance.
Which is why the next photo is so shocking. We posted up at approximately mile 190, and waited for the hot pink jerseys of the EF crew to come into view. Instead we saw this:
“NO WAY! NO FREAKING WAY! How did he stay away!” Sorry we didn’t believe in you Colin. We were wrong!
Shocked, we immediately started a timer to get a time check on the gap he had on the EF riders, and we sat down to wait. 1 minute… Nothing. Two minutes… Nothing. Five minutes later… we see this:
Belgian Waffle Ride champion Peter Stetina! Solo! Where is EF? Even though Stetina was 5 minutes back with 10 miles to go, we wanted him to have hope so we told him the gap was only 2 minutes. Is that wrong?
We REALLY wanted to race back for the finish but we decided to wait for the EF riders. We started another timer and waited… For TEN MINUTES!!! And then we saw this:
Lachlan Morton and Alex Howes. Shelled beyond belief. The photos don’t really show how cracked they were. Apparently when the lead group got to the final support stop with 50 miles to go, and Colin STILL had not been caught, the group opened the throttle and started chasing in earnest. There may have been flats, but the result was that riders were dropped, and the chase group splintered into individuals and pairs.
Stetina talked to us as he rode past. He was still in it. Morton and Howes did not say a word. Neither did we. We all knew they were too far back, and that their race was over. We didn’t want to tell them they were 15 minutes back, and I am sure they didn’t want to know.
There was something inspiring and noble in Howes and Morton at mile 190. They were shelled. Lachlan had snot running down his face. They knew they had no hope of catching up. But they were still working HARD. Still Chasing. Still taking pulls and working together. Even though it was hopeless they were NOT giving up. We do wonder if we would still be alive if Lachlan had the ability to shoot death rays out of his eyes though.
We managed to get a snap of Colin’s Wahoo at the finish line, and Colin was kind enough to pose with it shortly afterward. You can see Colin’s full ride on Strava.
What would a race story be without the results:
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