We have a look forward to some of the best British sportives to ride in the coming year

When the days are short and dragging yourself out on the bike feels like a chore, it’s good to have a few targets to continue working towards to make all the slogging away in the cold months worthwhile.

For those who won’t be putting that training into racing, non-competitive days out on the bike following a pre-set route are a great way to see new places or discover new roads in familiar regions.

>>> 15 reasons why cycling in the winter is great

Here we look at some of the best sportives from all corners of the UK, ordered chronologically.

This is far from an exhaustive list of cycling events, so you can let us know any of your favourites that we may have missed in the comments below.

The best British sportives

Wiggle New Forest Spring


When: Saturday April 8 and Sunday April 9
Where: Ringwood, Hampshire
More information: ukcyclingevents.co.uk/wiggle-new-forest-spring-sportive

An early season leg tester for those wanting to see if their winter mileage is paying off, this ride around the New Forest is so popular that riders can choose either the Saturday or Sunday.

There are three distances – 48, 80 and 130km – so if you have bitten off more than you can chew this early in the year you can always follow the signs for a shorter route.

Isle of Wight Randonnee

The signs can be followed all year round. Photo: Jack Elton-Walters

The signs can be followed all year round. Photo: Jack Elton-Walters

When: Sunday April 30
Where: Isle of Wight
More information: cycleisland.co.uk

Ride on the roads that the Lonely Planet rightly called the best place in the world to cycle. This route can be followed all year round thanks to the blue and white signs at key junctions, but the event itself provides checkpoints, feed stations and plenty of other riders.

The 2017 event will see riders heading in a clockwise direction around the Isle of Wight.

A choice of two distances – 55km and the full 100km – should appeal to a wide range of riders, with route variation depending on start location and willingness to take on gravel tracks.

Tour de Yorkshire Ride

Tour de France Stage 1 : Leeds - Harrogate Peloton Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA

Ride on the same roads as the pros. Photo : Yuzuru Sunada

When: Sunday April 30
Where: Yorkshire
More information: humanrace.co.uk/tour-de-yorkshire-ride

Forming part of the Tour de Yorkshire race weekend, the amateur event takes place on the morning of stage three.

Riders are treated to the same final kilometre and finish line as the pros, and can then stick around to see the WorldTour and domestic riders fight out for the stage – and maybe overall – win.

Fred Whitton Challenge

Not everyone makes it up the likes of Honister and Hardknott on two wheels. Photo: Steve Fleming

Not everyone makes it up the likes of Honister and Hardknott on two wheels. Photo: Steve Fleming

When: Sunday May 7
Where: Grasmere, Cumbria
More information: fredwhittonchallenge.co.uk

Seen by many as the country’s toughest sportive, the sheer number of steep climbs will have even the hardiest rider reaching for a 32t sprocket.

The sportive is run in honour of Fred Whitton, who died aged just 50 in 1998, and was a member of the Lakes Road Club. The 2015 event raised over £1 million for local charities.

Lincoln Grand Prix Sportive

The cobbled climb of Michaelgate. Photo: Andy Jones

The cobbled climb of Michaelgate. Photo: Andy Jones

When: Saturday May 13
Where: Lincoln and the Lincolnshire lanes
More information: itpevents.co.uk/lincoln-grand-prix-sportive

A rolling route around the Lincolnshire countryside carries a sharp sting in its tail in the form of Michaelgate.

The cobbled climb, which tops out over 20%, will catch anyone out who hasn’t kept enough in the tank over the rest of the ride.

Stick around to watch the best domestic pros take on the Lincoln Grand Prix races.

Isle of Man Cyclefest Gran Fondo

Isle of Man (Photo: Jon Wornham/CC)

Isle of Man. Photo: Jon Wornham/CC

When: Sunday May 14
Where: Isle of Man
More information: iomcyclefest.com/gran-fondo

This Gran Fondo features closed-roads, and will also feature unsurfaced forest roads and a processional ride out under blue lights. The long course is 128km and there is a family friendly 35km option too.

This event forms part of the Isle of Man Cyclefest.

Etape du Dales

A challenging ride in stunning scenery. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A challenging ride in stunning scenery. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

When: Sunday May 14
Where: Threshfield Rugby Club, near Grassington, North Yorkshire
More information: daveraynerfund.co.uk/etapedudales

The event pre-dates the Tour de France‘s visit to the county, but includes some of the same roads giving riders a chance to experience Grand Tour parcours.

Organisers warn that the 177km should not be approached lightly and riders need a high level of fitness to complete the challenge.

Etape Caledonia

Riders will pedal past Loch Rannoch. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Riders will pedal past Loch Rannoch. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

When: May 21
Where: Pitlochry, Perth and Kinross
More information: etapecaledonia.co.uk

A closed road route of 130km takes riders around Loch Rannoch and through the Tay Forest Park. Several feedstations throughout will keep riders going before they are welcomed back into Pitlochry.

Get your kit packed properly before the event

Wiggle County Durham Dynamo

When: May 27
Where: Darlington, County Durham
More information: ukcyclingevents.co.uk/wiggle-county-durham-dynamo-sportive

Launched in 2016, this ride takes cyclists from Darlington into the countryside of County Durham. As the route reaches the North Pennines, riders will be tested by the climbs but rewarded with the views.

A recent addition to the calendar, this sportive is ideal for anyone wanting to explore this fantastic part of the country, and is worth the journey for those from further afield.

Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia Northern Ireland

Spectators watch Garmin on stage one of the 2014 Giro d'Italia

Be part of the legacy of the 2014 Giro d’Italia. Photo: Graham Watson

When: Sunday June 4
Where: Belfast, Northern Ireland
More information: granfondogiroditaliani.com

Continuing the legacy of the Giro d’Italia‘s visit to NI in 2014, the sportive lets riders experience the best of the area on closed roads.

Another sportive with a choice of two routes; but with a large difference between them – 173km and 58km.

Isle of Mull Sportive

A coastal scene on the Isle of Mull. Photo: Phillip Capper/Flickr

A coastal scene on the Isle of Mull. Photo: Phillip Capper/Flickr

When: Sunday June 4
Where: Isle of Mull
More information: mullcyclosportive.co.uk

This event is staffed by local volunteers who help with the marshalling and the feed stations.

A choice of two routes on the quiet island roads, riders will be treated with a warm meal when they complete their chosen distance.

Wiggle MagnifiCat

Wiggle MagnifiCat
When: Sunday July 9
Where: Newbury, Berkshire
More information: ukcyclingevents.co.uk/wiggle-magnificat-sportive

The 2017 edition of the Wiggle MagnifiCat will be its 11th. Now offering four routes – 48, 105, 160 and 200km – the range should mean that most riders can find a manageable route, if not an all out challenge.

The ride comes with all the usual UK Cycling Events support at the start hub and out on the course.


Box Hill Original 12

Box Hill is the highlight of RideLondon. Photo: Roo Fowler

When: Sunday July 30
Where: London and Surrey
More information: prudentialridelondon.co.uk

This mass participation event sees over 20,000 amateur riders set out from the Olympic Park for a 100 mile ride through London and the Surrey Hills, all on closed roads.

Places are picked on a ballot system as demand far outstrips supply. For those lucky enough to get a place they can ride in the tyres tracks of the London 2012 Olympians.

Sodbury Sportive


Ride through glorious Cotswolds lanes. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

When: Sunday August 13
Where: Chipping Sodbury, South Gloucestershire
More information: sodburysportive.co.uk 

The Saddleback Sodbury Sportive starts and finishes in Chipping Sodbury, near Yate. A friendly and welcoming event run by the local Rotary Club and staffed entirely by volunteers, this is a fantastic event in a stunning part of the world.

The route is made all the better by marked Strava segments which add a hint of competitiveness to the ride.

Homemade sandwiches at the feed stations and a hot meal for every rider at the finish, an all round great sportive.

SpyVelo Sportive, Isle of Wight

Stunning scenery, testing climbs. Photo: Barb/Wightshots Photography

Stunning scenery, testing climbs. Photo: Barb/Wightshots Photography

When: September
Where: Northwood House, Cowes, Isle of Wight
More information: iwsportive.co.uk

Part of the IW Cycle Fest that runs from September 23 to October 1, you’ll find few more picturesque sportives than this in the UK.

The ride takes cyclists around the Island on some of the best roads and up a number of the most testing climbs.

Following a route locals and visitors alike would never think to do as it winds its way around to find 100 miles, riders are treated to stunning views and a truly amazing place to ride a bike.

Cornwall Coast and Clay

Stunning Cornwall scenery awaits riders. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Stunning Cornwall scenery awaits riders. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

When: September
Where: St Columb Major, near Newquay, Cornwall
More information: cornwallcoastandclay.co.uk

The third event on this list that is run by volunteers, this ride offers a whopping six distance options from 16 to 160km.

The range of rides should mean there’s something for everyone who makes the trip to the far South West.

Circuit of Kent

Kentish-Killer2010 5.jpg

Rural riding not too far from London. Photo: Sportivephoto.com

When: September
Where: Sevenoaks, Kent
More information: kentcyclosportive.co.uk

This sportive offers routes of 80, 40 and 130km through the Kent countryside South East of Sevenoaks.

Some testing drags will knock back your average speed, but the rolling route should suit most.

Something a bit different: Multi-day events

Tour of Wessex

Glorious Wessex countryside. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Glorious Wessex countryside. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

When: May 27-29
Where: South West England
More information: pendragonsports.com/Tour_of_Wessex

The full three day event sees cyclists cover 480km, but there are shorter routes and single day options.

Varying terrain, food and music in the evenings, and riders coming from abroad to take part, this is a unique event in the English countryside.

The Dragon Tour

Dragon Ride cyclo sportive 2009[2].jpg

Three days of great riding in the Welsh countryside

When: June 9-11
Where: South Wales
More information: humanrace.co.uk/dragon-tour

Building on the success of the Dragon Ride, Human Race Events now offer riders the chance to make a weekend of it.

Entrants ride two tough days on the Friday and Saturday before taking part in one of the four Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales by le Tour de France routes on the Sunday.

Ride Across Britain

John O'Groats

A welcome sight after nine days of riding. Photo: Rob Faulkner / CC 2.0

When: September 9-17
Where: Lands End to John O-Groats
More information: rideacrossbritain.com

For those wanting to do the end to end, but unsure where to start with the logistics, this ride takes care of all the planning so riders can concentrate on the cycling.

>>> 28 things you’ll only know if you’ve done Lands End to John O’Groats

Pit stops, medical assistance and pre-set campsites are just some of the perks.

  • Duncan Rolley

    Who says these are the best? Against what criteria? Frankly surprised this isn’t simply a list of the Cycling Weekly event series given your blatant disregard for any other events other than your own …..

  • Greg McHugh

    A scenic tour of Donegal following the Wild Atlantic Way with a few climbs thrown in for the craic.

  • llos25

    From what I can see they are just an excuse for a road race without the regulations no wonder motorists get upset in the UK glad I don’t live there.Paying large amounts of money to ride on roads that you can ride on for free somebody is making a lot of money.

  • J1

    There’s a few to add to this, not comprehensive at all but a decent selection.

  • Andy Harper

    Also missed off RiseAbove which is entering its 2nd year. upto 160km with some epic climbing around North Wales

  • Michael

    Yep, Bedford has an 80km closed road sportive in June too.