Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire hosts one of the country’s biggest and most diverse cycling festivals on Sunday, October 4.
Back for a second year, Bike Blenheim Palace incorporates a 20km time trial, a cyclo-cross race, 60- or 100-mile cyclo-sportive, family ride and the Brompton folding bike world championships.
Last year’s event attracted over 4,000 participants and spectators to the grounds of the famous World Heritage site, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.
This year is definitely much bigger, with the new cyclo-sportive ride and a whole host of stands and entertainment in the main arena.
The time trial is a full-on race against the clock, open to anyone who fancies it. Over 350 riders have registered to take part in the 20km race of truth on closed roads within the Blenheim grounds.
The 2008 event was won by Michael Hutchinson, with Julia Shaw top woman. Both are back to defend their titles against stiff competition.
New for 2009, the cyclo-sportive boasts an entry list of over 1,200 riders split between the 60- and 100-mile routes.
Both loops start and finish at Blenheim, in-between the riders will enjoy/endure a scenic route through the undulating Cotswolds.
Brompton world championships
One of the most memorable events of last year’s Blenheim event was the folding bike race. We were stunned to see triple Vuelta a Espana winner Roberto Heras taking part in the event.
But not as stunned as Heras was when the suited former team-mate of Lance Armstrong was beaten to the line by unknown British rival Alistair Kay.
Both Heras and Kay will be back this year, and the rivalry will be intense. Probably.
Roberto Heras: runner up last year looking to snatch Brompton world title from Britain’s Alistair Kay
With the testosterone-fuelled racing out of the way, the afternoon brings the opportunity for anyone to get on their bike and ride around the closed roads of Blenheim Palace in aid of the Have a Heart charity.
Schedule of events
6am Gates open and Time Trial course available for warm up
7.30am Event Village opens
8am Cyclo-sportive Starts
8.15am Time Trials start
12noon Brompton World Championship
12.45pm Routes open to general public
1pm Cyclo-cross starts
10am-5pm Various demonstrations in the Arena
6pm Event closes
2008: Heras beaten in Brompton World Champs
Bike Blenheim Palace official website