Records broken at Etape Loch Ness
ETAPE Loch Ness winner Lewis Macfarlane faced an anxious few minutes before event organisers confirmed his record-breaking triumph in the iconic and scenically spectacular 66-mile cycle race.
The Moray Firth Cycling club member from Inverness secured the biggest win of his young career by just three seconds.
With chip times rather than physical placings counting on the day, crossing the line first is no guarantee of success.
But the 20-year-old landscaper from Inverness soon learned of his victory, and is now determined to return next year to defend the title.
“It was an exciting finish and a hard day out,” Macfarlane, who finished second in 2017, admitted.
“Just sustaining the pace I wanted the whole way around the loch was tough, especially with the great climb to the Glendoe summit.
“It is all about trying to get over that hill in the best shape possible and maintaining it after that. By then, there was a lone rider out in front and a group of us some distance behind.
“We caught the leader in the run-in through Foyers and it was very close coming into the city. You’re never quite sure what chip times others have because competitors start at different times.
“There was an anxious minute or two before the placings were confirmed, but it was a fantastic feeling – it is certainly the biggest success I’ve had.
“I now have a few races in the Central Belt coming up where I’m hoping to build a bit of momentum, but I certainly hope to be back for the Etape Loch Ness next year.”
Macfarlane’s record time was two hours 45 minutes and 56 seconds.
Fellow Moray Firth CC members swiftly followed with Darren Dean finishing three seconds behind and third-placed Richie Sim another second adrift.
Orkney Cycling Club’s Alison Leitch won the women’s event in 2:55:13.
The male King of the Mountain crown for the fastest ascent of the 4.8 mile Glendoe rise was retained by Andy Cunningham of Wheelbase Castelli MGD in 19:05, while Leitch was fastest female in 25:59.
Event director Malcolm Sutherland said: “A huge well done to all the riders. It was a fantastic demonstration of a true passion for cycling.
“It’s amazing to see crowds, businesses and riders from across Scotland and further afield, getting behind Etape Loch Ness and placing the eyes of the cycling world on the Highlands.”