Life Time Fitness announced the race schedule, prize purse, and elite athlete fields for its 2024 Grand Prix series of gravel and mountain bike events, and the big takeaway is that fewer athletes will be competing for more cash. The elite rosters shrink from 70 to 60 athletes (30 men and women), while the overall prize purse grows from $250,000 to $300,000.
That prize purse is based on series standings, and pays out to the top 10 finishers. As in past years, it’s split evenly between the men’s and women’s fields. Another new wrinkle for 2024 is separate start waves for the men and women, a topic of debate in recent years.
As for the event lineup itself, no surprises there. The seven-race series kicks off with the Sea Otter Classic, a 100 km/65 mile mountain bike race on April 19, and ends with Big Sugar Gravel, a 160 km/100 mile gravel race in Bentonville, Arkansas on a to-be-determined date in October. There are three mountain bike events and four gravel races.
With the fields shrinking by five riders each, the big question is who’s in and who’s out. Sofia Gomez Villafañe and Keegan Swenson will return to defend their 2023 titles. Alexis Skarda, Haley Smith, Lauren De Crescenzo, and Sarah Sturm lead the challengers on the women’s side, while Alexey Vermeulen, Russ Finsterwald, Cole Paton, and Lachlan Morton round out the top five series finishers from last season. Prominent new names for the women include former women’s WorldTour pro Lauren Stephens, while ex-WorldTour pro Petr Vakoc, who finished second at the 2023 Unbound Gravel event, joins on the men’s side.
Cyclocross racer Caroline Mani is the highest-profile female athlete not to return, while ex-WorldTour pro Kiel Reijnen leads the list of departing men’s riders. (Author’s note: Dave Rome kindly pointed out to me that Ruth Edwards is also not returning; the ex-WorldTour pro is headed back to pavement racing in 2024 with Human Powered Health. Escape Collective regrets the boneheadedness.)
Full details are here.
2024 Life Time Grand Prix schedule:
- April 19: Sea Otter Classic Fuego XL – 100 km/62 mi – Monterey, CA
- June 1: Unbound Gravel – 320 km/ 200 mi – Emporia, KS
- July 13: Crusher in the Tushar – 110 km/69 mi – Beaver, UT
- August 10: Leadville Trail 100 – 160 km/100 mi – Leadville, CO
- September 14: Chequamegon MTB – 64 km/40 mi – Cable, WI
- September 28: The Rad Dirt Fest – 176 km/110 mi – Trinidad, CO
- October TBD: Big Sugar Gravel – 160 km/100 mi – Bentonville, AR
What did you think of this story?