It’s going to be a third weekend of racing on the spin for Alistair Brownlee – and it’s again going to be off-road as he takes in the Gralloch Gravel in Scotland.
The double Olympic champion made his triathlon comeback at the PTO European Open in Ibiza a fortnight ago, leading a stellar field in the early stages of the run before fading slightly into sixth.
Then last weekend he took part in his first-ever XTERRA event at Weston Park, Staffordshire and ran out the winner after a good battle with France’s Maxim Chane, the reigning XTERRA Short Track series champion.
And on Saturday he heads to Gatehouse of Fleet for the first UCI Gravel World Series event ever hosted in Britain.
Almost entirely off road, riders will tackle 113km across the hills of the Galloway Forest Park on some of the best gravel in the UK.
Astle and Dowsett also lining up
Writing on Instagram, Brownlee said: “Really excited to be heading to The Gralloch Gravel in Galloway. Recovering well from back to back race weekends.”
And Brownlee isn’t the only elite triathlete involved – #1 on the women’s startlist is none other than Ruth Astle, who landed IRONMAN Israel at the end of last season but has been troubled by a calf injury lately which has limited the amount of running she can do.
The pair both have winning form on the surface too, claiming the titles in the 19-34 age group at the British Gravel Championships in 2021.
And that year Brownlee also finished in the top 10 in Spain’s iconic Badlands gravel race, clocking 57 hours and 20 minutes over the 746km route of varied terrain in the rugged Spanish countryside, which mixed desert and mountains along with a total of 15km of climbing.
Astle’s Strava rides recently have reflected the temporary switch to gravel and also in action in the women’s race, albeit in the 35-39 category, is Australian Tiffany Cromwell who has won a host of the biggest cycling races on the road and is already a winner on the TREK UCI Gravel World Series this year.
Treble Worlds bid?
The 113km race in Scotland features a host of pro cyclists, including the recently-retired Alex Dowsett who had a key role in the Sub7 project last year.
Time-trial specialist Dowsett’s career saw him land two stage victories at the Giro d’Italia, a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games and the hour record on the track.
It underlines the quality of opposition and the Gralloch is a qualification event for the UCI Gravel World Championships in Italy in early October.
Brownlee has already qualified for the XTERRA World Championships, also in Italy in October, after his win last weekend and it was announced this week that he’ll bid to book his place at September’s IRONMAN World Championships in Nice with a strong performance at IRONMAN Hamburg early next month.