Classified Athlete Rob Britton winning Belgian Waffle Ride Canada

Classified Athlete Rob Britton is ready for Unbound Gravel

Fresh from winning Belgian Waffle Ride Canada on his home trails, we sat down with Classified Athlete Rob Britton to discuss his latest win and how he has prepared for this weekend’s Unbound race. 

Classified: Congrats on a huge Belgian Waffle Ride win. Talk us through the race?

Rob Britton: This was an important race for me. A home race is always very important, as a pro you don’t get those very often. But also timing wise, with BWR, Unbound, and then Finland next weekend, it’s an important time in my season.

I worked hard in training and prepared myself mentally for BWR. I put a lot of effort into the course recon; I was confident in my ability, but I knew I didn’t want to leave it to the final climb. It’s an awkward climb and not one I like, so I went earlier. I attacked initially with around 120km to go, just to soften everyone up. And I actually got away, but then I followed the lead moto off course and lost some time, getting caught by the chasers. It was a bit annoying, but it did soften them up. My planned attack point was with 105km on Shawnigan Lake Rd, one of the longest climbs of the race. It’s a mix of road and fine gravel, and quite technical in terms of getting the pacing right. It pitches up to around 25% on several occasions, so having knowledge of the climb is essential to get it right. I was able to take a minute gap over the climb which I then stretched out to 10 minutes by the end.

You attacked with 110km to go, did you think you’d end up solo? Was that the plan?

It was always the plan to do it solo. I didn’t want to deal with other rider’s tactics, or people sitting on. I knew that if I had the legs to win, I could do it solo. My home advantage also helped; of the final 100km I knew around 75km of it very well.

How did you feel when you attacked? And how did you feel at the end?

It pretty much went to plan when I attacked in a best case scenario kind of way. I didn’t have to surge; I just sat at my threshold power and rode away. I thought they’d just let me go, like “there goes rob again”, but I found out after the race that they couldn’t follow me. I felt good, and I had tactical food stations set up, so the race was mine to lose. But when I went up the final climb I was grasping for more gels! By the end of the race, I was cramping so much I thought I was going to have to walk over the line. I worked out afterwards that I took on over 1000g of carbs for the 7 hours, which is just insane.

Did your competitors have anything to say at the end of the race?

When I attacked, I assumed one of two things would happen. Either they’d organise quickly and bring the gap down, or they would not work together. But it actually sounds like they did work well together, just not quite fast enough. I was doing at least 300 watts at almost all times, so I knew they would have to be doing a lot more than that to close the gap. And again, my home advantage came into play. The gates and obstacles on the course can be slow even for a small group, and the subtle gradient changes can be mentally draining. Being prepared for that was a real advantage.

How do you think Powershift Technology helped with your race?

For me it’s a massive advantage. I spent so many years on the road, I’m used to a 2x set up. I don’t love the huge jumps between gears that you get with a traditional 1x system. With Classified you have all the benefits of the 2x system and 1x system combined. And The gear change is so fast, you don’t have to worry about lost seconds trying to find the right gear.  Those seconds and watts all add up over a 7 hour race. I beat the hell out of the Classified system at BWR this weekend, and it was flawless for the full 218km. You’re never going to get a missed shift; it just doesn’t happen.

Did you celebrate the win?

I learnt a long time ago that not celebrating a good result is stupid. There is no guarantee that you will win again after this, so you have to celebrate. I celebrated in chilled BC fashion – with a craft beer and Pizza. I was up at 4am before the race, so I was in a heap on the couch, but I was still celebrating!

Updating the MTB Lexicon with a new verb:

to Power·shift [Powershifting] {Verb}:
(also: the new benchmark in shifting gears)

1. To shift gears under full load within 150 milliseconds
2. Maintain valuable momentum during climbs and transitions, or before an attack

Classified’s unique 2 speed gear hub allows riders to jump through 46% percent of the gear range, or the equivalent of 2 or 3 rear derailleur shifts, within 150 milliseconds. As such, ‘Powershifting’ is quickly becoming the go to term for maintaining momentum on the trails.

Tests undertaken with pro riders showed a far greater use of the powershift hub gear as opposed to the rear derailleur, leading to an overwhelming increase of momentum through transitions.

“The feedback of professional riders is very promising and brought us even better insights into the enormous potential the product offers. Extending our range further into off-road space with the mountain bike hub confirms Classified’s vision to be a technology that is compatible across all cycling disciplines. We are extremely excited about the possibilities the new product brings and its ability to enhance the existing MTB drivetrain market." says Mathias Plouvier, CEO and co-founder of Classified Cycling.

CTO Roell van Druten adds “we are very proud to bring Powershift technology to mountain biking. With an ultimate gear range of 530%, the Powershift Boost hub combines a high-grade, one-piece compact steel cassette (11-40t) with a larger chainring, improving the overall durability of the drivetrain.”

Van Druten goes further to explain the benefits of the new system: “Using the Classified hub with an 11-40t cassette and a 34t chainring results in the lowest drivetrain ratio of 0.58. To achieve this ratio with a traditional system the user would have to use a 30t chainring. Using a smaller chainring in a traditional system lowers the efficiency and durability of that system due to the higher chain forces. The more compact Classified cassette also allows the use of a shorter derailleur cage, increasing the robustness of the drivetrain alongside the efficiency.”    

The Ringshifter:

The next generation of shifting, this sleek, fully wireless handlebar control provides unrivalled shifting performance with the lightest flick of your thumb. The Ringshifter can perform 10,000 shifts before needing to be easily recharged with the provided magnetic USB cable.

Featuring a unique magnetic spring back mechanism, the Ringshifter delivers unparalleled durability and a smooth, responsive feel. The functionalities of the Ringshifter can be customized to meet the individual needs of every rider.

How much confidence, in your form and your equipment, does this win give you going into Unbound?

Form is good, but honestly it will be touch and go for putting the pieces back together for Unbound. I went pretty deep at BWR. But to be honest I would rather have won BWR in Canada, at my home event, than come an anonymous 4th at Unbound. My bike set up is new, and it’s so fast. The new frame is a Factor Ostro Gravel. I’ve only had it for around 10 days, but I love it. Given the weather forecast this weekend, I will definitely be making use of the wider clearance.

A wet and muddy Unbound could be yet another chance for the Classified system to shine. Everybody knows that 2x in the mud is awful, with so many chances for a mechanical or a derailleur problem. One wrong shift and that front derailleur could be gone! The weatherproof hub gear removes all of that uncertainty.

How do you feel Powershift Technology will help you at Unbound?

With the weather set to be bad, and the shitty slow gravel and flint you get in that area - like broken rocks – it could be a game changer! Having confidence in your drivetrain in a situation like that is key to success. Being able to attack, or follow an attack, at a key moment in the race is only possible if you trust your equipment. I feel that with Classified.

Tell us about Unbound, why is it called the world’s premiere gravel event?

It’s the "real" World Championships of gravel. Everyone can tell you who won Unbound for the last 3 years. Especially in the last 3 years, with the talent that’s racing now. This year will be even more ridiculous talent-wise. Gravel racing isn’t a side show anymore, or a hobby for ex pros. It’s legit, and a win at Unbound can make you gravel royalty for at least a season.

How many times have you raced Unbound and how did it go?

This will be my second year. Last year I managed a good 6th place, riding around 100km of the race solo, just two minutes behind the front group. I don’t know if knowing what’s coming will be an advantage or not! Blissful ignorance helped me last year, hopefully fitness will help this year.

What are your hopes for this year’s race?

Honestly, I’ve never been that results orientated. I just want a clean run at the race, with no flats or mechanicals. If I can get through the race clean, then I think my fitness will allow me to be up there. A podium would be a great result.

How can we follow the race?

The best option is to follow the Unbound Instagram account (@unboundgravel) and keep an eye on the stories. I’m sure Classified’s account ( will also be following the race and reposting as much content as possible.

Can the fans ride with you before Unbound?

Yes. There will be a shakeout ride on Thursday 1st at 9:30am, leaving from the Schwalbe tent in the event village. And then at 9am on Friday morning there will be another shake out ride with Chamois Butter and Wahoo. Both rides will be around 1.5 hours, taking on a few parts of the Unbound route, and will be very social. Riders can just show up on the day to join the ride.

What else do you have on the calendar as big goals this year? 

A few days after Unbound I’m flying directly to Finland for FNLD GRVL, which will be a good one. The Lifetime series is a big goal in the season and riding Badlands in Spain would be cool, and something I haven’t done before. Then I’m taking part in Across Andes, a 1000km event through Chile. That will be cool, and a good test for the Classified system.

Will you be racing the gravel World Championships?

I won’t be racing at the World Championships this year. It falls at a funny time for me, so it's not on my plan this year. Maybe next year though.

Maybe a trip to Belgium for the 2024 Gravel World Championships?

Yes for sure I'd love that. I would love to race in Belgium, and also visit the Classified HQ and meet the team there. If it fits in my 2024 calendar then tnat would be really cool.

Thanks Rob, best of luck for the weekend. You can follow Rob’s progress at Unbound this weekend by following Classified on social media, and also following Rob on Instagram - @rob_britton.