A Professor from University of the West of Scotland (UWS) has secured a place at the UCI Gravel World Championships in Belgium.

Professor Richard Davison’s remarkable achievement comes after a dominant performance in the qualifying event in Gatehouse of Fleet, Dumfries in May.

Powering through the course he crossed the finish line in 3 hours, 54 minutes, and 32 seconds, averaging over 17.5 miles per hour. This impressive result secured him 5th place out of 199 riders in his age group (55-59), comfortably qualifying him for the World Championships.

Professor Davison, who is Head of Trans National Education (TNE) and Mobility at UWS, finished 20th in his age group at the UCI Road World Championships last year, decided to test his skills in a new cycling discipline for the 2024 season – gravel racing.

Reflecting on the race, Professor Davison commented, “Gravel racing is always fraught with risk, particularly of punctures and mechanical issues as the bikes take a real pounding on the rough surfaces and last year my race only lasted 10 minutes. However, this year I had no issues and had good form all day”.

“During the race I wasn’t sure what place I was in but knew that I was at least in the top ten so was delighted to finish in 5th place.”

Gravel racing offers a unique blend of road cycling and mountain biking. Riders navigate challenging courses that often incorporate dirt roads, gravel paths, and off-road sections. The Gatehouse of Fleet qualifying event proved this with a punishing 68-mile route with a staggering 5,800 feet of elevation gain.

Over 2,000 riders from across the globe battled the elements and the Scottish terrain, vying for a chance to compete at the UCI Gravel World Championships in Belgium this October.

Professor Davison’s dedication to cycling goes beyond the competition. He is a passionate advocate for the health benefits and enjoyment of the sport: “Cycling offers a fantastic way to stay active and explore the outdoors.” he explains.

“Whether it’s road, gravel, or mountain biking, there’s a cycling discipline for everyone. It’s a great way to challenge yourself, de-stress, and connect with nature.”

Speaking of Professor Davison’s achievement, Ciaran O’Brien, Head of Sport at UWS said: “UWS is incredibly proud of Professor Davison’s achievement. His commitment to physical fitness and his willingness to embrace new challenges serve as an inspiration to both students and colleagues alike.

“This dedication to fostering a love for learning and embracing new challenges aligns perfectly with the philosophy behind UWS’s Sports courses, where students of all backgrounds can discover their passion for sport and explore its many disciplines.

“The University extends its congratulations to Professor Davison on this remarkable achievement and wishes him all the best at the UCI Gravel World Championships in October.”

By Ricky Kelly

Main writer for Renfrewshire News

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