Unbound Gravel announces important rule changes to the elite fields for 2023 race

Gravel riders in the Unbound gravel race
(Image credit: Unbound)

Considered one of the world's premier gravel events and now in its 15th year, Unbound Gravel has grown from a startline of just 34 riders back in 2006 to over 4,000 riders lining up in 2022. The event attracts riders from around the world including top professional riders.

With the lottery going live this Thursday 5th January and the scramble for much sought-after places begins, organizers Life Time Events and Media and the Unbound marketing team have announced some important rule changes for 2023. Read on below to find out more.

the start line of unbound gravel 2022

Amateur riders will no longer line-up beside big name riders at Unbound  (Image credit: Unbound)

The elite field will no longer start with the amateur riders

With many elite riders making their livelihood from Unbound and preserving rider safety for everyone, elite male and female fields will now start ten and eight minutes before the amateur riders.

UNBOUND say "by removing the ability for out-of-their-league non-elites to get mixed in with the elites, it removes some of the risks of people riding beyond their abilities and causing dangerous scenarios." and that "it preserves the race experience and ethos of the event for everyone in attendance. Removing the elites from the amateur experience altogether ensures that the experience is preserved for the person there to “finish” and to experience “adventure by bike,” while making sure all participants, elite and amateur, have the safest and best experience during the race."

They also hope that splitting the field will allow for more fair media coverage for the women's field, in that it creates the ability to understand where the women’s field is and the women will also have a better idea about where everyone they are competing against is, and it will allow for more racing with the other women.

  • Elite Men will start 10 minutes ahead of the amateur riders
  • Elite Women will start 2 minutes later, 8 minutes ahead of the amateur riders
  • The elite field will be vetted. Riders will be asked to provide credentials to start in the elite field

Riders on the gravel goodness of Unbound

(Image credit: Unbound )

Aerobars or bar extensions of any kind will not be permitted for the elite field

With high-speed racing over rough and undulating surfaces, Unbound has decided to removing aerobars of any kind in the elite fields and says "that it creates a far safer rider experience by mitigating the risk for crashing at high speeds while using aerobars" and also "that bikes will be scanned at the elite start lines to ensure riders are abiding by the new rule."

The Unbound Lottery opens on unboundgravel.com (opens in new tab) this Thursday, January 5th, with a host of distances available from 25 up to 350 miles. Good luck getting a spot!

Paul Brett
Staff writer

Based in Edinburgh, Paul Brett is a staff writer for BikePerfect.com. He has been an avid cyclist for as long as he can remember, initially catching the mountain biking bug in the 1990s, and raced mountain bikes for over a decade before injury cut short a glittering career. He’s since developed an obsession for gravel riding and recently has dabbled in the dark art of cyclocross. A fan of the idea of bikepacking he has occasionally got involved and has ridden routes like the North Coast 500, Scotland and the Via Francigena (Pilgrim Route), Italy.


An award-winning photographer, when not riding a bike, he can be found at the side of a cyclocross track or a downhill mountain bike world championship shooting the action. Paul has been the founder, editor and senior writer for Proper Cycling magazine that has seen him travel the world interviewing some of the biggest names in mountain biking and writing about some of the biggest cycling brands.


Rides: Scott Spark RC Team Issue, Bergamont Grandurance Elite, Standert Kreissäge Team Edition


Height: 176cm


Weight: 85kg