2022 saw the inaugural Trek UCI Gravel World Series take place with races around the globe and was the first time that gravel racing had come together under the UCI umbrella. Although UCI involvement wasn't welcomed by some, the UCI have formalized the standards and promoted the stature of the events, with races attracting some of the most competitive riders from men’s and women’s racing that culminated in the Gravel World Championships in Veneto, Italy.
A star-studded lineup included Mathieu van der Poel, Peter Sagan, Sina Frei and Britains Hayley Simmonds, with the first gravel rainbow jerseys being won by Gianni Vermeersch and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot.
In May, The Gralloch will be the first UK event to be part of the TREK UCI Gravel World Series and will start and finish in Gatehouse of Fleet in Dumfries and Galloway in the South-West of Scotland.
With the event having UCI status, it means the race is the only event in the United Kingdom where cyclists can race their gravel bikes and qualify for the Gravel World Championships, to be held again in Italy next October.
While the route is yet to be finalized, riders will tackle around 110km taking them north on a hilly route into the stunning Galloway Forest Park, one of Scotland’s most beautiful areas and a world-renowned UNESCO Biosphere. Having ridden in the area I can say it's a largely undiscovered gem of scenery and gravel riding with riders getting the chance to experience the beauty of the area, although with the race being almost entirely off-road and with around 2,000m of climbing, it's set to be a tough day in the saddle.
Organizers RED:ON have a proven track record in delivering cycling participation events and in gravel have organized and run two editions of the King’s Cup, which incorporates the British Gravel Championships. And last August they were responsible for the four-day Raiders Gravel event which, like The Gralloch, is also based in Gatehouse of Fleet and the Galloway Forest Park.
Malcom Smith co-founder RED:ON spoke about the vision for The Gralloch. “Talking to people at our other events we realized the British gravel cycling community was crying out for a UCI level event to fulfill the demand from an ever-growing number of competitive riders.
"We wanted to create a challenge worthy of the status, and after riding in the area we realized the Galloway Forest Park is home to some of the best gravel trails in the UK, and knew we could provide a course the riders can both enjoy and create exciting racing.
"The gravel is about as good as it gets and the scenery adds an extra dimension which will take riders breath away if they have any left and as a UCI Gravel World Series event, riders will race in their age and gender groups with the top 25% able to qualify for the Gravel World Championships."
Maddy Nutt who won the Raiders Gravel women's event in the summer and represented Team GB in the Elite UCI Gravel World Championships last October, was full of praise for the gravel riding in Galloway. “Of all the racing or riding I’ve done in the UK I would say that this is probably the best area for this event. From my experience of the UCI racing, there have been problems with large sections of road, but not here the gravel in Galloway is pretty much continuous, lovely flowing gravel."
British Gravel champion, Danni Shrosbree added, “I think riders can expect a mix between really enjoyable gravel and some challenging bits, in the sense there was some quite large gravel which made it quite energy sapping, but they will also like the undulating terrain.”
Organizers are offering a special early-bird booking price of £64 (excl. booking fees) which is available until January 1st 2023 at 23:59 GMT and you can view the event trailer below with full event details at Gralloch Gravel.