You may have seen, or even ridden, an Italian Gran Fondo and been envious of their closed roads, and semi-professional set up, and thought, “If only we could do that here.” Well it looks like your dream may have come true in the form of the Tour of Cambridgeshire…
Organisers Vericool Sports Management in conjunction with the UCI, are bringing an authentic Gran Fondo to the UK’s roads. Over the weekend of the 6th and 7th June riders will have the chance to compete in two events on fully closed roads.
On the Saturday riders will ride the 28km Tour of Cambridgeshire Chrono time trial. This event is part of the UCI World Cycling Tour and the first 25% in each Masters age category, in both male and female categories, will be invited to compete in the 2015 UCI World Amateur Road Championships time trial in Denmark this September. Riders will get the chance to roll down a proper start ramp before heading out on to the ‘sporting’ course, so no slipstreaming lorries on an A road!
As well as qualifying for a ride in the World Championships, the fastest male and female rider will take home £1500 each. Understandably, with that kind of incentive, all 700 places have sold out, so best get training for next year!
On the Sunday a field of up to 10,000 riders will take part in The Tour of Cambridgeshire Gran Fondo. As on the continent while most riders will be happy to ride the 126km route and revel in the traffic free roads, at the front of the group it will be a whole different matter. Here eight different age categories will battle it out to be first across the line to take home the £1500 first prize. This is sure to ensure some hard racing and there will also be prizes for the individual age categories.
While Cambridgeshire may not be famous for it’s Alpine climbs, organisers Vericool Sports Management say it will be no walkover. With short, steep climbs at the beginning and end the course takes a loop onto the Fens. Although flat, the Fens can offer their own challenge in the form of strong winds, the organisers say this is one place to leave your deep section rims behind! With the roads closed, it will be one of the few times you’ll get to practice riding echelons in the UK. Working as a group on this part of the course could be the secret to success.
Vericool’s Tom Caldwell explained how the Tour of Cambridgeshire came about, “Until now British riders have had to travel abroad to compete in proper closed road Gran Fondos, so when the UCI approached us about organising the UCWT level time trial and we secured the closed roads, we realised this is the right time to bring a truly authentic race/sportive gran fondo to the UK. It’s been a lot of hard work and investment to get to this stage but worth it to have the first events of their kind in the UK”.
Vericool have experience organising the Circuit of the Fens road race in Cambridgeshire, as well as the accompanying sportive, and have a history of organising and participating in cycle events here and abroad. All that experience should mean a top class, unique event for UK riders. Definitely one that should become a “must do”.
So you have two days of racing, or one day of racing followed by a sportive, all on closed roads, a luxury here in the UK. Some very tempting cash prizes which should bring out the best, what else have the organisers added to the mix?
Well there’s the start time, midday for a very civilised start, no dark o’clock starts and trying to stuff porridge in your face while your body wants to get back under the duvet.
The start is housed in the Peterborough Arena and there will be free parking just a few minutes ride away from the start pens. By the start there will be an expo area with traders happy to provide you with those last minute items, or you can just ogle the shiny new kit and on-site catering to keep you going. All in all it’s going to be a fantastic weekend of cycling and a chance to test yourself against some of the top amateur and masters riders in the UK. We’ll be riding the event, so if you see us come over and say, ‘Hi!’ Even better, offer us a wheel in the winning break!
The idea behind the UCI World Cycling Tour (UWCT) is to promote “high level competition for Masters and Amateur” riders and to spread the UCI’s plan of “Cycling for All” around the world. Since it’s launch in 2011, the UWCT has grown to fourteen events taking place all over the globe. Take a look at the UCI promotional video below to get a taste of what the Tour of Cambridgshire will be like
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