The was no change at the pointy end of Stage two of the Raiders Gravel RACE wave, with both Alistair Brownlee and Amelia Mitchell crossing the line first and heading into Sunday’s final day with increased advantages.
For the rest of the field the 84.5km day was one of interesting clothing choices, with the cold early autumn air replaced with hot sunshine, the heat bouncing off the gravel increasing intensifying the heat. But while Friday’s less than perfect weather showed the area in a moody light, Saturday displayed its stunning glory.
The day began with an unexpected obstruction, the RACE wave held up by an escaped bull found wandering up the road in the neutral sector. Luckily some creative thinking from the lead car ensured the race continued without problems.
The men’s race was a similar affair to Stage one, with Brownlee, Mikey Mottram, and Lawrence Carpenter once again getting away very early on, though this time they were joined by Mottram’s Ribble Collective team mate Metheven Bond.
“There were four of us but I think Mikey just kept riding until everyone else had gone,” explained Brownlee. “We had a decent battle up the climb in the middle, that was a lot of fun and then that descent down there was fast and I got a way a little bit, but he’s just so much quicker than me on the flat rolling stuff.
“Then on the last stage we were just trading turns a little bit more and it was just solid, hard. I managed to get a little bit of a gap on that second last climb and just held onto it.”
Saturday’s winning advantage of 32 seconds means Brownlee now takes a lead of 5.31 into Sunday’s closing stage, but the job is not yet done.
“I’ve ridden round here enough to know that anything can happen, you can have five minutes with one kilometre to go and it can all disappear in a cloud of smoke. I think I’ll try and ride sensible, try and look after the tyres and hope for a bit of luck,” Brownlee said.
While the top three in the men’s race was identical to Friday’s, the women’s race was far more interesting. While Mitchell was first across the line, Danni Shrosbree was the stage winner, the result courtesy of Raiders Gravel’s timed sector format.
Riders were only timed when on the gravel, with the two connecting tarmac sections effectively neutralised, so the day’s victory went to the national champion, who was 28 seconds faster than Mitchell across the timed sectors. However, Shrosbree had suffered a mechanical nightmare on day one and her deficit to Mitchell remains more than 20 minutes with only the final day remaining.
Indeed London-based Mitchell will take an advantage over second placed Maddy Nutt of 8.39 into the final 74.5km stage. So did she come to Scotland to win?
“No, I don’t think you can, that would be very arrogant wouldn’t it,” she said at the finish line. Mitchell was also the victim of a mechanical issue, and was saved only by the sealant in her tyres.
“Several people told me that I was losing sealant on the neutral, which was fantastic, so I was behind everyone and started right at the back. Then Maddy had an issue on the really big loose stone right at the start so we were together and I managed to ride with her on the first climb.
“I could see Danni about 20 seconds ahead of me, so I was just trying to get to Danni, I was riding with a couple of fantastic men on the second segment and caught Danni in between the second and third and we rode as a group pretty much for that last bit which was fantastic because the first 15k flew by.
“I wanted to ride with Danni because we’ve got nationals in two weeks and I wanted to see how I’d fare against her, I knew she’d keep with me until her legs said no.”
It seems both senior races are decided, but who knows, and let’s face it, it’s not all about them, Raiders Gravel is about everyone.
With bikes cleaned by our friends at Fenwicks it was time for the some lazing in the sun and then, in the evening The Dogz provided some musical entertainment. What a day.
Official results are available at: raidersgravel.com/results