Unbound Gravel 200: Sofia Gomez Villafañe rushes to victory

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Sofia Gomez Villafañe was in a league of her own when she took victory in the Women’s Unbound Gravel 200 after leading abreast for much of the race.

Lauren De Crescenzo entered the race as defending champion, but after losing ground to Villafañe early on, she was still leading the race – often alone in the mud and rain. At one point, De Crescenzo was more than eight minutes behind Villafañe and sitting third on the course, but she fought back and started to come into her own in the second half of the race.

However, Villafañe was in unstoppable shape, using his expert mountain bike skills through some of the heavy mud sections and even getting up in several places. She also crashed through one of the mud sections, but kept her composure and power to take the win in her first Unbound Gravel appearance. The victory continued Villafañe’s incredible start to the season with victories already at Cape Epic and Rule of Three.

“I have such a great team of people around me, but I was here to prove a point, that mountain bikers can go fast and go long,” said Villafañe on arrival.

“It was funny because two weeks ago we ran Rule of Three and we went out that night for some ice cream and to where there was this magic eight ball and I asked him ‘am I going to win Unbound?’ and the results said “sure” so I was very excited, and I was going to be thrilled to win a Life Time event, but to come out with the overall lead, and Cape Epic.. it’s a true testament to the hard work that has been put in. I didn’t ride any off season gravel and trained on my TT bars on the road, never trained for more than five hours, and so setting it up was really special.

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Villafañe edged her rivals in the opening stages of the 200-mile race and quickly put the rest of the women’s field on the back foot. De Crescenzo found herself several minutes behind with Heather Jackson in second place and ahead of the defending champion for the first half of the race. Sarah Max, Emily Joy Newsom, Paige Peters, Katie Kantzes, Melissa Rollins and Amber Neben were all battling for the minor places as Villafañe took a lead of more than six minutes over Jackson with De Crescenzo a minute longer.

Unbound Gravel 200: Sofia Gomez Villafañe rushes to victory (Photo: Will Tracey)

“It turned out a lot, it was a good day, and I’m really happy that we went under 11 hours,” added Villafañe.

The win also put Villafañe at the top of the Lifetime Grand Prix standings after two rounds of racing.

“Coming out of this with the head is obviously good. I’m just interested to see which girls gave up or how it went.

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