The first stage of the 2023 Raiders Gravel was almost a repeat of last year’s opening day, the weather only playing ball as the day wore on.
At the Event Village in Gatehouse of Fleet the 300 strong field of riders were greeted with dreich weather, a thin drizzle intermittently descending on Garries Park, despite sunny spells being forecast.
This didn’t dampen the spirits though, the RACE wave heading out of town for the 73.9km stage which began with the group riding the opening 10km under neutralised conditions. The flag dropped when the 142 rider peloton hit the gravel with 53km of some of the country’s best gravel ahead of the mixed gender group.
As the rain stopped the action heated up, though some heavy surfaces caused a number of early punctures, putting paid to some racers’ hopes. That did not dull the action though, the pace very high and a select group of three getting away within the opening five kilometres.
By the time Alistair Brownlee, Mikey Mottram and Lawrence Carpenter reached the first time check, some seven kilometres in, they had established a lead of well over 30 seconds which would never be closed, at least for two of them.
Meanwhile, behind those leading men, Amelia Mitchell and Maddy Nutt teamed up at the front of the women’s race, the pair riding together for a while until Mitchell began to edge away from her rival. The gap between the two women increased gradually and Nutt eventually crossed the line 57 seconds behind the women’s winner, Mitchell who won in 1.39.03.
After Carpenter suffered a mechanical, the men’s race became a duel between Mottram and Brownlee, however, poor luck struck Mottram, and with 10km he punctured and began dropping back.
Former double triathlon Olympic gold medallist Brownlee eventually crossed the line in 1.23.46, finishing some five minutes ahead of a philosophical Mottram.
But it wasn’t all about the front of the race, there were other classifications in the RACE wave, and most were out to do the best they could, fighting personal battles. In the 100 strong RIDE wave riders aims were the same, challenging themselves while enjoying one of the country’s most beautiful places.
And even the weather played ball in the end.
Official results are available at: raidersgravel.com/results