Why Keegan Swenson shelved WorldTour plans for his love of gravel and mountain biking

'There were definitely some offers and interest but there wasn’t anything enough to lure me into it,' American off-road star tells VeloNews.

Photo: Anthony Smith

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Keegan Swenson has revealed to VeloNews that while he did receive interest and offers from the WorldTour, his aim is to remain a premier off-road racer in 2023.

The American wrapped up the elite men’s classification at the Life Time Grand Prix last weekend to close out his season. He confirmed that while he had received interest from WorldTour teams, he did not acquire the right offer that would have tipped him toward a life on the road.

“There were definitely some offers and interest but there wasn’t anything enough to lure me into it,” Swenson told VeloNews as he traveled back home after rounding out his season with a podium at Big Sugar Gravel.

Also read: Haley Smith and Keegan Swenson top final standings in Life Time Grand Prix Series

Swenson had made a brief foray into road racing just a few weeks ago when he represented the United States at the UCI Road World Championships in Australia. That event was designed to act as a litmus test for Swenson’s desire to transition towards road racing, whilst also drawing out interest from potential suitors.

“I really enjoyed racing road worlds and I’d definitely do it again if the opportunity came, but for me, I love racing off-road,” he said on Monday evening.

“I still have a lot to do and then it also came down to my instincts. They told me that this was the right thing to do rather than almost completely starting over on the road. In the end, there wasn’t the right offer on the road.”

Back in September, when Swenson was announced on the team for worlds, the 28-year-old told VeloNews that only the right sort of contract offer could tempt him away from his mountain bike and gravel exploits. He wanted to dovetail several disciplines of racing while retaining a mixed calendar. Such an offer didn’t land in his in-tray and to an extent he was relieved. It meant he didn’t have to really agonize over which way to lean.

“In the end I was almost relieved,” he added.

“I was really curious about the road and the idea of giving it a proper go but at the same time, I’m almost glad it didn’t work out. It’s a huge decision to spend all that time in Europe, changing my entire life. I was ready to do it, but it would have been a really big move. Not having the exact offer on the table that I wanted made the decision easier for me.”

Also read: Keegan Swenson: Gravel is the most competitive form of racing in North America

Swenson had an incredible season, winning Sea Otter,Crusher in the Tushar and the Leadville 100 on his way to the Grand Prix title.

“It’s nice to wrap it up. It’s been a long year but to win the first one, the inaugural Grand Prix, that’s pretty rad. The event spanned from April all the way until now, so it’s been great to keep that consistency all season. Now I’ll take a few weeks off and then get ready for next year,” he said.

His exact plans for 2023 are still to be determined but with his focus set to remain off-road, it’s likely that he will tailor his campaign to suit his ambitions. Should the Life Time Grand Prix return for a second consecutive season he will undoubtedly be the favorite to retain his crown, while he also has his eyes on a few more specific races.

“Right now it looks like we’ll race on more or less the same schedule. We’re still ironing out the details and we’ll see if the Grand Prix happens again but I really enjoy what I’m doing, and I think that there’s a great scene over here in the U.S. Then with the UCI growing gravel, I think that there’s more opportunities. That’s the direction that I’m heading in,” he said.

“I really want to have another crack at Cape Epic. We’re still working out the details for that but I’d love to go back and be a bit more prepared. Otherwise I’ll focus on the same races. Maybe UCI Gravel Worlds, maybe mountain bike marathon worlds, we’ll just need to see how everything lines up.”


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