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The Steamboat Springs gravel race that last year sold out in 22 minutes has expanded from 2,000 to 2,500 spots this year, plus added an e-bike category.

The Grind is a weekly column on all things gravel.

SBT GRVL is opening its registration this Friday at 7 a.m. MST with a cap of 2,500 riders. Last year the event sold out its 2,000 spots in 22 minutes. The Steamboat Springs, Colorado, gravel race has a few new things in the works, and promoter Amy Charity is optimistic that the mass-start event will go ahead on August 15, 2021, after COVID-19 effectively wiped out the 2020 season.

Although the race is taking on more riders this year, almost all the 2,000 riders who were signed up for the 2020 event deferred their spot, so basically only 500 spots are up for grabs on Friday.

Charity has made a conscious effort to include more women from the event’s inception, and this year SBT GRBL is working with the Ride for Racial Justice to hold spots for Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

SBT GRVL has a prize purse of $22,000, split evenly between the men’s and women’s racers. As is the tradition in gravel, men and women race together at SBT GRVL. There are four course distances, from 37 to 141 miles, and each of the four fields has its own mass start. Charity is hopeful that by next August COVID-19 restrictions will not hamper the event.

That said, SBT GRVL will follow guidelines from the Center for Disease Control, and other government entities. Some new practices will probably make for a cleaner event, such as hands-free water systems and pre-packaged food.

“Gone are the days of wiping your nose, then digging your sweaty hand into a bowl of M&Ms right before the next person,” Charity said.

Should COVID-19 restrictions occur, riders will have the option to defer to 2022, and partial refunds will be issued to registered athletes in the event the race is canceled.

Charity listed a few big-name riders expected to race SBT GRVL, including Alison Tetrick, Whitney Alison, Lex Albrecht, Kaysee Armstrong, Sarah Sturm, Sarah Max, Lauren De Crescenzo, Emily Newsom, Lauren Stephens, Peter Stetina, Colin Strickland, Jacob Rathe, Geoff Kabush and Laurens Ten Dam.

On the other end of the spectrum, Charity is hoping to make gravel accessible to new riders, as well, with the addition of an e-bike event on the 37-mile Green route that will leave behind the race wave.

Deferred riders from 2020 have until midnight tonight to confirm their spot, and then general registration opens at sbtgrvl.com on Friday morning at work 7 a.m. MST.

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