Big names return to The UCI Gralloch Gravel Fondo for its second year

The Gralloch, the UK’s first TREK UCI Gravel World Series race will return for its second edition next May, with big names in the sport already signed up

Big names return to The UCI Gralloch Gravel Fondo for its second year. credit RED:ON Events

Taking place on Saturday, May 18th 2024, The Gralloch will once more be based in Dumfries and Galloway, South-West Scotland, riders again tackling a challenging route on the trails of the Galloway Forest Park. 

Among the professionals who rode in 2023 Nathan Haas (Castelli-Colnago), Hayley Simmonds (Movistar), Heidi Franz (DNA Pro Cycling), Cameron Mason (Trinity Racing), Xan Crees (Spectra-Cannondale) have all signed up to return next Spring, with Freddy Ovett, who missed out due to injury, joining them.

The Gralloch is the UK’s first UCI Gravel World Series race and will remain at the top level of UCI gravel racing for its second edition. This status allows riders the opportunity to qualify for the 2024 World Championships, slated to take place in the Flemish Brabant area of Belgium on October 5th and 6th.

The 2023 race tackled 113km, with around 90% of the hilly course off-road on some of the best gravel the UK has to offer, riders climbing more than 1,800m, starting and finishing in the small town of Gatehouse of Fleet. Almost 900 riders took part, with road WorldTour riders Connor Swift (Ineos Grenadiers) and Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon//SRAM) taking convincing victories in their respective men’s and women’s races. Last weekend Swift finished third at the World Championships, while Cromwell took 10th in Italy.

Behind them, riders raced The Gralloch in the UCI’s Masters Age Groups, the top 25% of each group qualifying for the World Championships. Of those 2023 qualifiers Helen Jackson achieved The Gralloch’s highest place, winning the Female 45-49 category in Italy after finishing second in her group last May.

Big names return to The UCI Gralloch Gravel Fondo for its second year. Big names return to The UCI Gralloch Gravel Fondo for its second year. credit RED:ON Events

Current British cyclo-cross champion Mason finished sixth in 2023, took 24th place at the Gravel World Championships in Italy and is ready for more home gravel action next season, “I’m excited to get back to the Gralloch next year, I think it’s going to become even more significant for me racing the home Gravel World Series as the UCI Gravel World Series gets bigger and attracts more international riders,” Mason explained. 

“The Scottish round is really going to be my round to hopefully show everyone what I can do. I really enjoyed last year’s course and the nature of the race, it’s really raced from the front and really aggressive racing. That suits me well, so I’m excited to give it another shot next year, and hopefully some more big names come over and give us a good challenge!”

Though Crees is an established cyclocross rider with international top 10 results to her credit, The Gralloch was a breakthrough for the 22 year-old, who went on to win the British Gravel Championships at King’s Cup in September, “Last year I didn't really know what to expect or how it would go, as it was my first gravel race, so I surprised even myself finishing fourth overall and third in the 19-35s,” she said. “I remember it being a tough day out both physically and mentally with the constant climbing and the loose surface. There were points I was suffering so much I wanted to climb off, but it was so rewarding to cross the line and reflect on the ride I'd just completed! The result was a bonus!

“I was pleasantly surprised by just how much of the course was off road! I absolutely love the riding in the Gatehouse of Fleet area so I can't wait to head back to The Gralloch next year to ride there once again!”

Big names return to The UCI Gralloch Gravel Fondo for its second year. Big names return to The UCI Gralloch Gravel Fondo for its second year. credit RED:ON Events

Former British time trial champion Simmonds will arrive in Scotland looking for revenge after a mechanical ended her challenge early in the 113km race, “I was incredibly disappointed this year to suffer an unrepairable puncture so early in the race. I had pre-ridden the course earlier in the week and was blown away by how beautiful the riding was,” she said. 

“On race day I felt strong and was in a great position when I hit something sharp and tore my side wall. However that gives me added motivation for 2024 and I’m already looking forward to what is undoubtedly going to be a great event! 

“The organisation and communication this year was really good and Gatehouse of Fleet is clearly a perfect location for gravel racing so The Gralloch 2024 will definitely be a target race for me. I can’t wait to be back!”

Former WorldTour road rider, Haas has been a gravel pro for two seasons and has victories in big gravel races to his name already. In Scotland the Australian finished seventh last year, and will head back to Scotland with an eye on the podium, “The Gralloch is on the top of my list for must do races for 2024,” the Australian said. “The roads, the racing and the organisation are all exactly what I’m after in choosing my calendar. And the whisky of course.”

Franz lined up for the 2023 race on a bike borrowed from our friends at Galloway Cycling Holidays she had only ridden for one day, but still managed fifth place, losing out to Crees in a sprint finish. And, while she raced for US squad DNA Pro Cycling in 2023, she’ll be part of British based Lifeplus-Wahoo team, “Riding for a UK based team next year makes me even more amped to return to race The Gralloch in Scotland. I’m hungry for a result there, after an amazing day racing the 2023 inaugural edition.”

Big names return to The UCI Gralloch Gravel Fondo for its second year. Big names return to The UCI Gralloch Gravel Fondo for its second year. credit RED:ON Events

Though Ovett is Australian he was born in Dumfries, just a few kilometres from where The Gralloch takes place, and signed up for the 2023 edition but was unable to ride after a crash, “It was a huge disappointment to miss the Gralloch last year after my crash so I’m super excited to get there in 2024. Coming back to Dumfries after many years away will feel in a small way like coming home and I heard the course is brutally fun so it’ll be a great time all around. Definitely one of the events in my calendar I most look forward to and I hope the locals will welcome me like one of their own - even with my Aussie accent!”   

General entries were opened in late September, with unprecedented numbers already signed up. 

“We’re really pleased to launch next year’s event, as you would expect we have been working hard to make 2024 even better than last year!” said Maximilian Wussler, co-owner of organising company RED:ON Events. 

“It’s really great that so many professionals have already signed up, showing confidence in our event and its organisation. Of course the event is as much about the amateurs as it is about the professionals and we’re thrilled to have seen so many of our riders do well at the World Championships this past weekend. 

“Our riders delivered thrilling racing from start to finish and the spectators guaranteed a fantastic atmosphere. We look forward to seeing more of the same in 2024.

“Our ambition is to once again deliver one of the very best UCI Gravel World Series events and provide the best racing experience for riders across all age groups. The unprecedented entry levels show the interest in gravel racing is growing exponentially and we expect to see a huge percentage of new faces at this year’s event.”

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