Warbasse 'fit but fatigued', headed to Unbound Gravel 200 after Giro d'Italia

Larry Warbasse (AG2R Citroën) leads the breakaway with Veljko Stojnić (Corratec - Selle Italia) on stage 19 of the Giro d'Italia
Larry Warbasse (AG2R Citroën) leads the breakaway with Veljko Stojnić (Corratec - Selle Italia) on stage 19 of the Giro d'Italia (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Larry Warbasse (AG2R Citroën) said he is as prepared as he can be to tackle Unbound Gravel 200 as the first gravel race in his 12-year pro road racing career. He also admitted that maybe he was a little crazy to hop on a flight just days after completing the Giro d’Italia to compete at Unbound, one of the hardest gravel races on the planet, 8,500km away in Kansas.

It seemed that making it to Rome in this year’s gruelling Giro wasn’t enough of a challenge for the 32-year-old Michigan native. He had helped teammate Aurélien Paret-Peintre to a victory on stage 4 and was in the queen stage breakaway on the final weekend. With a fifth Giro now under his belt, Warbasse said he was “fit but fatigued” as Unbound Gravel loomed just four days away.

“It is probably one of the best ways you could prepare. It'd be nice to have a few more recovery days in between, but I think I'll come in good form,” Warbasse told Cyclingnews about a quick transition from the Giro to Unbound. “I was hoping to fly tomorrow, but it was kind of last minute and the flights were booked, so I fly Thursday.

“It was something that BMC and the team proposed, and I was like, OK, I guess it should be fine. I'll be fit, but I might be a little bit fatigued. It'll be interesting. It'll be my first gravel race, so it'll be an experience that's for sure.”

Riding a three-week Grand Tour could be considered one of the best ways to prepare for an off-road endurance test like Unbound Gravel, an “unintentional training camp” as he called it. However, that is not why he competed at the Giro, which was the ninth Grand Tour of his career.

Just completing this year’s epic Giro was a tall task, as the peloton faced repeated days of cold rain, injuries and illnesses that accounted for 51 riders abandoning the race over the 21 racing days. AG2R Citroën lost Paul Lapeira to illness during stage 4, Andrea Vendrame to COVID-19 before stage 11 and Mikaël Chérel to stomach issues during stage 12.

“I was hoping to get a stage win. I didn't come away with one. But yeah, it was a good race for the team. We had a stage win, and we were really active in all the breakaways so it was really nice. I was glad that on the queen stage, the last big mountain stage, I was able to get out there and have a good ride,” Warbasse said about his high-altitude ride to Tre Cime di Lavaredo, where he finished 22nd.

“I was hoping to have a little bit better legs in the final but I was in the breakaway from like kilometre five, and went really deep in the first hour with [Veljko Stojnić of Corratec-Selle Italia] to try to stay out there. So that took a bit out of me for the final but I was still proud of my race.

“It was a good three weeks with the team in Italy, but we we lost a few guys to sickness. I think just finishing this Giro healthy and in one piece was quite an accomplishment this year.”

With no time to test his legs or equipment for a gravel race, Warbasse has relied on reading about Unbound while in Italy as well as calling friends. One of those friends who has imparted personal knowledge and tips about the Flint Hills of Kansas was fellow US rider and 2021 Unbound 200 winner Ian Boswell, who retired from the pro road peloton after seven years with WorldTour teams.

“I've been trying to learn as much as I can about the race, and, you know, the parcours and gravel and everything like that. And yeah, just be as well prepared as I can be. I just got a phone with Ian Boswell, actually,” Warbasse said with a slight chuckle. “I kind of had a general idea already [about the course]. So no, it wasn't anything too crazy new that he revealed to me unfortunately.”

He will join a few other BMC ambassadors in Kansas for the ride, including former pro Brent Bookwalter, who also makes his Unbound debut on Saturday. 

After Saturday, Warbasse hopes to get in some rest, finally. And then back to the road for a 10th Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España.

“Yes, definitely rest and then I'll build towards the Vuelta. So whether that's Tour of Poland or something else, it'll be sort of building towards the Vuelta for the second part of the year.”

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Jackie Tyson
North American Production editor

Jackie has been involved in professional sports for more than 30 years in news reporting, sports marketing and public relations. She founded Peloton Sports in 1998, a sports marketing and public relations agency, which managed projects for Tour de Georgia, Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and USA Cycling. She also founded Bike Alpharetta Inc, a Georgia non-profit to promote safe cycling. She is proud to have worked in professional baseball for six years - from selling advertising to pulling the tarp for several minor league teams. She has climbed l'Alpe d'Huez three times (not fast). Her favorite road and gravel rides are around horse farms in north Georgia (USA) and around lavender fields in Provence (France), and some mtb rides in Park City, Utah (USA).