A $250,000 off-road series: Life Time launches six-race Grand Prix in 2022

A $250,000 prize purse will be on offer for 20 men and 20 women.

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Life Time, Inc., which owns Unbound Gravel and several other major events, is launching a pro series of off-road races in 2022.

The Life Time Grand Prix series will feature six events between April and October of next year, with Unbound Gravel and the Leadville Trail 100 MTB among the races comprising the series.

“It was kind of a confluence of opportunities,” Life Time’s President of Media and Events Kimo Seymour told CyclingTips. “We had a bunch of cool events, we thought there was an opportunity to do something more for the pros that have been supporting us and coming to events, and so we just pieced it together and decided to do it with three mountain bike events and three gravel events. We thought that’d be kind of cool to mix it up a little bit and to just be the best gravel riders winning and the best mountain bikers winning, but someone that can do well at both.”

The series will open with the Sea Otter Classic mountain bike race in Monterey, California, in April. Next up is Unbound Gravel in Emporia, Kansas, in June, followed in July by the Crusher in the Tushar gravel race in Beaver, Utah. The series will continue in August with the Leadville 100 in Leadville, Colorado, and then it’s on to Cable, Wisconsin, for the Chequamegon MTB race. The Big Sugar Gravel race will close things out in August in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Life Time will select 20 men and 20 women to compete after reviewing applications, with a total of $250,000 of prize money on offer, split evenly between the men and the women. Seymour told CyclingTips that Life Time had garnered input from a number of pros during the process of putting together the plan for the series.

“There’s been such an expansion of events, so much growth and new events the last few years, especially gravel events, now they’re having to be selective because there’s just so many great events out there,” Seymour said of the pros currently atop the off-road racing scene. “What we’re hearing from a lot of them that we talk to is that they are going to key in, this is going to be a cornerstone of their season, this six-event series, and then they’ll piece in whatever events they can in between.”

A points system will reward riders for their finishing positions inside the top 20, and the series rankings will take into accounts riders’ five best finishes.

“The idea of dropping a race, that was a big debate,” Seymour said. “If you’re a Formula One driver, you don’t get to drop a race. But the reality is, a lot of athletes, 20 males and 20 females, a good chunk of them probably do still have to have every day jobs and there will be something that comes up in life where they can’t make a race, or we didn’t want it so that if they had a bad race, they were out of the mix.”

At the end of the year, the riders with the most points will take the overall series title – and the largest chunks of the purse – with prize money being rewarded down to 10th place.

The application period for interested pros opens on November 22 and closes on December 6.

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