Skye cyclist wins a spot on the podium in Loch Ness Etape

Fiona Grant (right) finished as the second woman across the line at the Loch Ness Etape event to earn a place on the podium.

Skye cyclist was the second woman home in the Loch Ness Etape event which saw a record field of over 5,600 take to the roads near Inverness last Sunday.

Fiona Grant completed the 66-mile course in three hours, four minutes and 21 seconds to earn the podium place – something which she said came as a “terrific surprise” at the grand old age of 55.

Fiona, from Broadford, took up cycling as a serious pursuit five years ago and she trains regularly with the Cuillin Wheels club, based in Uig, as well on roads throughout South Skye and Lochalsh.

She completed Sunday’s event in a time some 30 minutes quicker than she had achieved the previous year.

First woman home in 2.55.13 was Alison Leitch of Orkney CC, with international-class triathlete Marie Meldrum – of Fort William’s Nevis Cycles – in third place in 3.08.30.

Fiona with fellow Cuillin Wheels members Bruce Elliot and Paul Milnes

“A place on the podium is not something I was going for or expecting, but I was delighted with it,” said Fiona, who over the winter has been cycling between 100 and 200 kilometeres every week for training. “It shows that even at 55 you can push yourself on.”

Fiona said she hoped the performance of the Cuillin Wheels cyclists would encourage others to take up the sport and join the club.

Among a Skye contingent of around 25 or so, three Cuillin Wheelers completed the Etape course in under three hours. Paul Milne was fastest in 2.55.12, with Bruce Elliot finished just behind in 2.55.14, while Alan Cope cycled the route in 2.57.13.

Lewis Macfarlane, from the Moray Firth CC, won the event in a time of 2:45:56.

Starting in Inverness, the stunning Etape Loch Ness route follows the A82 along the northern side before passing through Fort Augustus on to the south side where riders face the challenging ‘King of the Mountain’ stage. The route then continues around the southern side of the loch before returning to the event hub at Eden Court in Inverness.

Macmillan Cancer Support has been the charity partner for Etape Loch Ness in each of the five years that it has been staged, and in 2018 riders smashed through the £1million fundraising milestone thanks to their combined efforts.

Article by Keith MacKenzie