By Nick Bull
Cambridgeshire will host Britain’s first-ever Gran Fondo as part of a two-day cycling extravaganza in the county next June.
The Tour of Cambridgeshire will comprise of a 16-mile (25km) time trial on June 6, followed 24 hours later by an 83-mile (134km) Gran Fondo. Both events will take place on fully-closed roads, while the former will be included on the schedule of the UCI’s World Cycling Tour, a series of events aimed at amateur riders and ex-pros alike.
Gran Fondos, a mass-participation event that – unlike sportives – include a competitive element, have become increasingly popular in Europe and North America in recent years.
“But, until now, British riders have had to travel abroad to compete in them,” said organiser Tom Caldwell, whose CV includes putting on the popular Circuit of the Fens road race.
“We’ve had to throw the kitchen sink at this, but the hard work has paid off.”
Caldwell is hoping to attract 700 riders for the time trial, which takes place on a sporting course and will have “a professional look-and-feel to it”. Forget about stopwatches, as per your normal club 10: every rider will have timing chips fitted to their bikes.
The Cambridgeshire Gran Fondo will offer amateurs a chance to enjoy a pro’s experience, from a professional start and finish area to a police escort. There are 10,000 places available, too.
Both events start and finish at the Peterborough Arena, which sits in close proximity to the A1.
The time trial costs £34, and the Gran Fondo £56 – the bulk of which covers personal and event insurance, together with traffic management – but a saving of £10 is available for those who purchase places in both at the same time.
For more information visit tourofcambridgeshire.com
The duffer’s guide to the Tour of Cambridgeshire Gran Fondo
What exactly is a Gran Fondo?
It’s an Italian term, and is used to describe competitive mass-participation events.
Will it be safe to race, then?
Riders who wish to start off in the “front group” have to hold a valid racing licence – be it from British Cycling, LVRC, TLI or a foreign federation. The bulk of the entry fee into the Gran Fondo (and the time trial, too) covers personal and event insurance, any profit of which will be put back into local clubs and events, as well as the following year’s Gran Fondo.
What’s the course like?
Organiser Tom Caldwell described the first 30 kilometres as a “Belgian experience: expect short, sharp climbs.” After that, the territory is similar to that found in his Circuit of the Fens event: flat, exposed roads.
What’s the prize fund?
At least £1,500 will be available for both the first male and female to finish, while there will be a similar prize fund on offer for the victors in the Tour of Cambridgeshire time trial. Both will also have prizes for winners in masters’ categories, and there will be an overall prize for the weekend’s winners across both events, based on a points classification.
What if I don’t want to race?
Not a problem. You can enjoy the ride without being competitive. Road closures are in place for six hours for both the time trial and Gran Fondo. No race licence is required.
How many people can take part?
10,000. And unlike the Prudential RideLondon 100, for example, entries are available on a first-come, first-served basis (instead of being awarded using a ballot process). In another difference to RideLondon (and many other sportives), the Gran Fondo and time trial both start at the sociable time of 12pm.
Why does it clash with the Wiggle Dragon Ride?
Organisers were given the date by the UCI, and had very little say in the matter. After all, the Tour of Cambridgeshire time trial forms part of their 15-round UCWT series. Because of the contrasting terrain, plus distance between the events, Tom Caldwell said: “The Tour of Cambridgeshire should appeal to cyclists other than those who take part in the Dragon Ride.”
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