Tour de France organiser reaches deal to acquire the Fred Whitton Challenge sportive

Legendary Lake District sportive to be run by Human Race

A rider climbs Honister Pass, one of the early climbs in the Fred Whitton Challenge

(Image credit: Andy Jones)

One of the toughest events on the UK sportive calendar has been taken over by a subsidiary of Tour de France organisers A.S.O., it has been announced today.

The Fred Whitton Challenge, which covers 112 miles of gruelling Lake District terrain, has been run by the Lakes Road Club and local volunteers since 1999, but has now been taken over by Human Race, which is itself owned by the Tour de France organisers.

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In a statement, the current organisers of the event said that the contract agreed with Human Race meant that the Fred Whitton Challenge would "keep our ethos and our charitable commitments without any compromise".

Paul Loftus, the president of the Fred Whitton Challenge, said that the deal was in the best interests of the long term future of the event.

Watch: How to climb Honister Pass

“Myself, the Steering Group and the Lake Road Club are excited that the future of the Challenge has been secured for years to come," Loftus said.

"We feel that in teaming up with Human Race we have a partner that will respect the ideals that we have achieve over the years with the event, and that we can still now raise money for all the charities that we have successfully supported in the past.

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"Never in our wildest dreams did we think that we would be in this position today were we would have to ballot riders for places in the event, and that the organisers of the Tour de France are aware of our event in Cumbria."

The 2017 event will take place as planned on May 7, with riders tackling all of the major Cumbrian passes, including Kirkstone Pass, Honister Pass, and the fearsome Hardknott Pass.

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