Thousands of cyclists took part in one of Scotland fastest growing sporting competitions, taking in the scenic 66-mile route around the iconic Loch Ness.
However one of the 5,200 competitors was rushed to hospital after a collision with another cyclist.
The 54-year-old man was taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary for treatment following the collision on the A82 and police said inquiries were ongoing.
Malcolm Sutherland, event director of Etape Loch Ness, said: “We are continuing to assist the police with their investigation into the incident.”
He added: “The fourth Etape Loch Ness has been the biggest yet, bringing thousands of keen cyclists to the Highlands to ride through our glorious countryside.
“Months of planning and many volunteers go into organising an event on this scale, and to see so many participants – many raising an incredible amount of money for charity – instils a great sense of pride in everyone involved.
“We would like to offer a huge thank you to all of our partner agencies, communities along the route and the public, without whose support Etape Loch Ness would not happen.”
The fastest male rider around the 66-mile course was Andy Cunningham of All Terrain Cycling in a time of 2 hours, 48 minutes and 20 seconds. The fastest female cyclist was Carol Hinchcliffe from Stonehaven CC in 2 hours, 55 minutes and 06 seconds.
Many participants used the opportunity to raise much-needed funds for good causes across the country.
Official charity Macmillan Cancer Support has received a welcome boost from charitable riders, who have raised around £200,000 – a figure which will rise in the coming weeks. Local businesses – including hotels, restaurants and shops – have also enjoyed an off-season rise in trade.
Jessie Longhurst, challenge events programme manager at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “We’d like to offer a massive thank you to all our riders for their fantastic support at Etape Loch Ness this year.
“As our biggest Etape team so far with almost 1,000 riders, we have raised around £200,000 to help people living with cancer – and this is set to rise. Thank you also to Caledonian Concepts for organising such an amazing event, and for allowing us to be a part of it.”
The first cyclists set off at 6.15am on Sunday, following a route which began and finished in Inverness, passing through Drumnadrochit, Invermoriston, Fort Augustus and Dores.
The second fastest male was Lewis MacFarlane from Moray Firth CC in 2 hours, 48 minutes and 59 seconds, while the third was James Higgins from Moray Firth CC in 2 hours, 49 minutes and 05 seconds. Marie Meldrum from West Highland Wheelers was the second fastest female around the route in 3 hours, 02 minutes and 37 seconds, and Claire Connelly was third with a time of 3 hours, 13 minutes and 11 seconds.
Etape Loch Ness is supported by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
Stuart Turner, head of EventScotland, said: “Etape Loch Ness is a fantastic event and it’s great to see its continued success, with the closed-road sportive attracting thousands of keen cyclists again this year.
“Scotland is the perfect stage for cycling events and the 2017 Etape Loch Ness will no doubt deliver strong benefits to Inverness and the surrounding area.”
Registration of interest for the 2018 Etape Loch Ness can be made on the website at www.etapelochness.com
Macmillan Cancer Support works extensively across the Highlands and the rest of the UK, and is the official charity partner of Etape Loch Ness for the third year running.
Every day, 19 people in the north of Scotland receive the devastating news that they have cancer. Sadly, 10 people will die as a result of the illness. It is estimated that the number of people in the Highlands living with cancer will double over the next 20 years. For more information visit www.macmillan.org.uk