By Nigel Wynn
Scotland will host a new UCI Gran Fondo World Series closed-road mass participation cycle event in 2017: the Tour of Ayrshire, over April 29-30.
The Tour of Ayrshire Gran Fondo is organised by the company behind the Tour of Cambridgeshire, and the event will run using a similar format. There will be a 20km time trial on Saturday April 29, followed by a 137-kilometre Marmotte Écosse mass start ride on Sunday, April 30. Both events start and finish in Kilmarnock.
Both events take place on roads closed to other traffic.
Like the Tour of Cambridgeshire, the event will be part of the UCI's Gran Fondo World Series, which means that riders posting fast times will qualify for a place in the 2017 Gran Fondo World Championships, which take place in France over August 24-27.
The time trial event has room for 500 riders, with the Gran Fondo catering for 5000. Pre-registration for both events opens on Tuesday, November 1. Those registering early can take advantage of a discounted £55 entry fee.
Gran Fondos differ from sportives in that there is a race at the ‘front’ of the event with a prize list. Riders choose to either take part in the race, or simply ride at their own pace. Tom Caldwell, CEO of organisers Golazo Cycling UK Limited, said: “think of it like a big city marathon with a race at the front and a traditional sportive towards the back of the field.”
More information and entry details can be found on the Tour of Ayrshire website.
Craig Burn, chief executive of Scottish Cycling, hailed the addition of the event to the UCI Gran Fondo series.
"Scottish Cycling is always delighted to see well organised, safe and accessible mass participation events come to Scotland, but to have a UCI sanctioned Gran Fondo coming is particularly exciting," said Burn.
"Securing major events such as this in Scotland is fundamental to achieving our inspiration to participation strategy. These mass participation events help us to build strategic partnerships with Scotland's local authorities and other stakeholders to drive our wider cycling ambitions with regards to getting more people riding bikes, be it through local clubs, participation programmes, competition or social cycling."
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