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Cyclists slay monster challenge

By Alistair Whitfield

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IT WAS a case of one, two, three for the Moray Firth Cycle Club at the Loch Ness Etape yesterday.

More than 5,600 cyclists – from elite riders to charity participants – took part in the 66-mile event, which saw roads closed to other traffic.

It is expected to bring in over £230,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support.

The top three males, all from Moray Firth Cycle Club, each beat the previous course record and came within four seconds of each other.

The fastest male rider was Lewis Macfarlane in a time of 2:45:56.

Meanwhile, the fastest female cyclist was Alison Leitch of Orkney Cycling Club also beat the women's course record by finishing in 2:55:13.

Event director Malcolm Sutherland said: “A huge well done to all the riders who took part in this year’s event. It was a fantastic demonstration of a true passion for cycling.

“So many volunteers, partners and sponsors have helped in the planning and execution of Etape Loch Ness over the last few months, and we extend our thanks to each and every one of them.”

The second fastest male was Darren Dean in 2:45:59, while the third was Richie Sim in 2:46:00.

Fiona Grant, Cuillin Wheels, was second fastest female in 3:04:21 and Marie Meldrum of Nevis Cycles was the third fastest female in 3:08:30.

A special jersey was awarded to the fastest male and female participants on the King of the Mountain stage – sponsored by The Singleton of Glen Ord - to the top of the Glendoe summit outside of Fort Augustus.

The 2018 king, Andy Cunningham riding for Wheelbase Castelli MGD, retained his crown in a time of 19:05 while Alison Leitch made it up the 4.8-mile climb in 25:59.

Participants were joined by two of Scotland’s most formidable female endurance cyclists in the form of round the world record-breaker Jenny Graham and Scotland Commonwealth Games mountain biker Lee Craigie, who has recently been appointed Active Scotland Commissioner.

Will Morrison Ayton, of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “It was incredible to see so many green and white jerseys fly past.

“This will bring the total raised at Etape Loch Ness events over the past six years to more than £1.25 million, which is a remarkable achievement.”

The first riders set off at 6.15am from Bught Park in Inverness. The route passed through Drumnadrochit, Invermoriston, Fort Augustus and Dores before finishing at Eden Court.

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