The Gralloch, UK's first-ever UCI gravel race, attracted a host of pro riders to the Scottish town of Gatehouse of Fleet. One of them was Alex Dowsett, the ex-Israel-Premier-Tech rider who is now enjoying retirement from pro cycling and breaking world records and taking on little less demanding challenges - such as running marathons and gravel racing...
Despite the Gralloch being Dowsett’s fifth-ever gravel ride, he’s obviously not a complete stranger to rough road conditions, having raced Strade Bianche and Paris-Roubaix a few times throughout his career.
2023 Gralloch - Alex Dowsett-socks, by Suvi loponen
Dowsett finished sixth in his age category but when asked if he’d be keen to race more of the UCI gravel races, the answer was a quick “Who knows” - and a quite definite no to the “longer American races”.
Dowsett was one of the pros on the stage on the evening before the race, and laughingly told how his recce ride with Nathan Haas had involved making closer acquaintance with some Scottish undergrowth. On race day, the 34-year-old managed to avoid contact with the bushes and ploughed through the 113km course smoothly.
“It was enjoyable, but hard. There’s no rest, you’re just on the pedals all the time. And I am not super fit at the moment, I expected more from myself. I ask for numbers I was doing in the WorldTour, and I can’t quite do them at the moment. But with training, we’ll get there,” Dowsett said.
After retiring from professional cycling at the end of last year, Dowsett is now free to choose his equipment and, for the Gralloch, he was riding a Specialized Diverge Expert gravel bike and used kit from Nopinz.
2023 Gralloch - Alex Dowsett-bottle cages, by Suvi loponen
The bike, as Dowsett explained, was pretty much “off the peg” except for the small tweaks on the position and stem length. Dowsett had added the purple bottle cages, Garmin's SPD power meter pedals and the long stem to the bike - and the setup had quickly got approval from his pal Nathan Haas.
2023 Gralloch - Alex Dowsett- drivetrain, by Suvi loponen
Dowsett’s gravel tyre of choice for the rather dry conditions was the standard 42mm Specialized Pathfinders set up tubeless with 29PSI both front and rear. The tyres are wrapped on stock Roval Terra C wheels.
The groupset on the Diverge Expert is a 12-speed Sram Rival.
2023 Gralloch - Alex Dowsett- Pathfinder tyres, by Suvi loponen
“I’m happy with it [the bike], and if this gravel thing continues I’ll just put shorter cranks on,” Dowsett said, referring to the 172.5 cranks on his bike at the moment.
Talking of the bike's fit, the eagle-eyed might notice the very forward-positioned Power saddle, which Dowsett said is down to the 20mm setback on the Roval Terra Carbon post.
2023 Gralloch - Alex Dowsett- saddle setback, by Suvi loponen
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