Entries for the sixth London-Paris Cycle Tour (L2P), a three-day, fully supported 500km ride which promises to give amateur cyclists the opportunity of a professional 'Grand Tour' experience have opened.
Billed as 'the professional event for amateurs' L2P takes place from June 25-28 2009 and will see up to 300 riders start from London before tackling 514km in stages of around 180km, 167km, 168km over the three days.
With an escort from motorcycle outriders in the UK, rolling road closures in France and travelling support from mechanics, participants really do get to experience a little bit of the professional riding experience. The highlight of the event is an entirely traffic free ride into the centre of Paris on the final day to the finish at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.
The 2009 event – which has backing from adidas, Subaru and Science in Sport – promises to be challenging with day one a 175km route from Hampton Court through Kent to Dover for the afternoon ferry crossing to Calais. Riders will tackle the short sharp ascents of Capel le Fern and Goudhurst Hill, the latter being familiar to race fans as a King of the Mountains climb in the 2007 Tour de France.
Day two sees 167km heading north east and includes the challenging, rolling roads of the Collines l’Artois before arrival at Amiens. The last day consists of 168km from Amiens south to Paris before rolling into the capital, past the Arc de Triomphe and ending at the Eiffel Tower.
In 2008 high profile riders in the event included two-time Olympic gold medal winning rower James Cracknell, former Tour de France winner Stephen Roche and ex-England footballer and cancer survivor Geoff Thomas. Both Roche and Thomas have already signed up for the 2009 event with the Geoff Thomas Foundation – the cancer research charity set up by the former Crystal Palace player – named as the lead charity for the event.
Last year, Cycling Plus editor Rob Spedding also rode the event. "It was really good fun," he said. "The other riders were a top bunch and there was a real sense of camaraderie. Riding in a bunch with cars kept at bay was a superb experience and the final few miles into Paris, with the roads closed just for us, was really special. And the fact that I managed 600km in three days is proof that anyone else with a decent level of fitness can too!"
For more information on the London-Paris Cycle Tour click here.