Alistair Brownlee was on the top step of a podium once again on Sunday when he took the overall victory at the three-day Raiders Gravel event at Gatehouse of Fleet in the south west of Scotland.
Injury has meant the two-time Olympic champion’s only major triathlon race this season has been the PTO European Open in Ibiza in May, where he finished sixth.
But he underwent successful surgery on his right ankle in July, saying afterwards: “It’s also a big relief that we’ve successfully removed something that has caused me so many issues.”
It’s clear Alistair’s bike legs are in decent shape judged on a dominant performance on the gravel against what was mostly a British field in Dumfries and Galloway.
How the race panned out
He was in control from the outset after crossing the line in 1.23.46 on day one, exactly five minutes ahead of runner-up Mikey Mottram.
He took another 32 seconds out of him on what was a similar second day – with Brownlee, Mottram, and Lawrence Carpenter once again getting away very early on, though this time they were joined by Mottram’s Ribble Collective teammate 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.”
Good training for triathlon
That put him in command going into the final day but he was taking nothing for granted, adding: “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.”
But thankfully for him all went well and he won by 6:42 over Mottram in the overall standings, with Bond at +16:07 in third.
Speaking afterwards, Brownlee said: “It felt so good to be back amongst it racing on the weekend.
“I’ve really enjoyed it, it’s an amazing, beautiful place and a good format having three days of racing. You get some good racing and some good training in.”
It’s not his first gravel race title – he won his age-group title at the British Gravel Championships in 2021 – and he added: “Over the years I’ve done quite a lot, as much as I can really, I’d like to do more.
“I’m still concentrating on triathlon, but I love racing – I like being competitive, I like being in the outdoors and exploring new places so definitely in the next few years I can see myself doing a bit more.
“I think racing on gravel is actually very different in that when you race on the road it’s very dependent on how good your top end power is and what sort of kick you’ve got, whereas [on gravel] you can’t kick like that and it’s more about effort over one, three, five minutes and that’s more kind of endurance triathlon that I train for.
“I race for between four and eight hours so the longer the race that kind of long endurance effort is good for me as well.”