Gravel World Series UK – Tiffany Cromwell and Connor Swift win at The Gralloch

 The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023
The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023
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The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023
The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023

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The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023
The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023

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The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023
The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023

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The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023
The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023

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The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023
The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023

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The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023
The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023

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Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM) after winning The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023
Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM) after winning The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023

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The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023
The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023

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The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023
The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023

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The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023
The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023

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The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023
The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023

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The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023
The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023

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The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023
The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023

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The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023
The Gralloch UCI Gravel World Series round 2023

Both Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM) and Connor Swift (Ineos Grenadiers) charged away from their rivals to ride to solo wins at the first UK UCI Gravel World Series round at The Gralloch, with the experienced Australian capturing her second round of the series in a row while the British rider took the victory on his gravel debut.

The women set off first in the 113km sold-out event, with Cromwell initially finding the going tough after a quick turnaround from the SEVEN Gravel World Series race in Nannup, Western Australia. There she had made a winning start to her 2023 gravel season just the week before taking to the line in Dumfries, Scotland.

“The start was the most challenging for me as it was all uphill, and my legs were still waking up and feeling the effects of last weekend’s race," said Cromwell. "Initially, I dropped from the front six, but I went full on the descent and caught back.

"Nikki Brammeier kept putting on pressure on the descents, which suited me. After 20km, we were just three riders. All of a sudden, I was alone in front. I decided to push on and opened up a gap quickly, and after that, I focused on my own race—fuelling well, keeping power on the pedals, going fast on the descents, and riding tempo on the climbs."

Doing this gave Cromwell a dominant lead in the event, which packed in 1,854m of ascent as it worked its way out from Dumfries on a hilly route through the Galloway Forest. By the time she returned to the start/finish location in the market town in the south-west of Scotland she had a lead of nearly ten minutes on second-placed British rider Amelia Mitchell, a racer for the Zwift Esports racing team CRYO RDT who delivered an impressive gravel debut.

Svenja Betz (MAXX-SOLAR ROSE Women Racing) crossed the line in third, with the winner of two-rounds in the 2022 series taking to her first podium of this season in a tight sprint with Xaan Crees (Team Spectra Cannondale) and Heidi Franz (DNA Pro Cycling). Retired professional Brammeier finished 18th, despite being out front in a duo with Cromwell at one stage of the race, as three flat tyres took the four-time British cyclocross champion out of the running.

In the men's event, which started 40 minutes after the women had taken to the course, the opening climb split the field but it was still a large group a third of the way through. Then around the halfway mark Swift launched and quickly built a lead on the chase group of Kevin Panhuyzen (Giant Liv Benelux), Sam Culverwell (Dolan Ellesse RT) and triathlete Alistair Brownlee, who won gold at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.

“I looked at the first climb yesterday but I knew someone else would take that on and that would form a group of 20 or 30 guys, and that’s exactly what it did," said Swift in an event media release. "I looked at the elevation and I saw that at around 54km there was a decent little hill that went into a bit of a cross wind and then a nice sweeping descent, so I thought if I squeeze there, take the descent pretty full gas and see what happens at the bottom.

“I thought a few more were going to come across, but I stayed solo from there. It was a super hard effort, I sort of started regretting it on the very last climb, I had a nice cadence on all the rest but the last one was a proper slog and I was on my last legs there and I didn’t have any time gaps but I was fully committed.”

Swift ended up coming over the Dumfries finish line nearly seven minutes ahead of Culverwell, who sprinted to second just ahead of Panhuyzen. Christian Kreuchler (Mobil-Krankenkasse Cycling Team), who won in Poland last year, came fourth. Cameron Mason (Trinity Racing) – who has twice made the series podium already this season – finished seventh after being struck by illness earlier in the week while Nathan Haas (Colnago Castelli) was just behind him in eighth. A puncture took Brownlee, who had been in the front chase group, out of the running.

The Gralloch is the seventh round of the UCI Gravel World Series, with each race acting as a qualifier for the UCI Gravel World Championships in Veneto at the start of October.