The first Bike Blenheim Palace, held in Oxfordshire, UK on September 28, has been branded a huge success by the organisers. Over 4,500 people took part or watched the event, which was run on closed roads inside the palace's scenic grounds.
There were a number of races run throughout the day, the highlight arguably being the 3rd Brompton World Championships. Some 500 riders took part in this, including three-time Tour of Spain winner Roberto Heras. Amazingly, the Spanish star, who hasn't raced professionally since failing an EPO test in 2005, didn't quite have the same mastery of the folding bike as he did a road machine. He finished second in the event, three seconds behind Scotsman Alistair Kay who clocked a brisk 21'59 for the 13km race.
The other races were just as competitive, with British time trial champion Michael Hutchinson (In Gear Quickvit RT) winning the 20km time trial in 26'51. He was 34 seconds ahead of Ben Instone (www.scientific-coaching.com), who discovered that Xentis wheels could withstand the impact of a pheasant at 45mph, to the disadvantage of the pheasant.
In the women's race, UK 10- and 50-mile time trial champion Julia Shaw (In-Gear Quickvit RT) won in a time of 30'59, beating UK 100 mile champion Ruth Eyles (Beacon Roads) by 17 seconds. Over 230 riders started the time trial, a third of whom had never raced against the clock before.
The competition was capped by a British Cycling promoted elite/1/2 circuit race, run over 1 hour plus 1 lap of the 6.5km circuit. The race was won by David Clarke (Team Lacuna) form Sigma Sport's Matt Stevens and Daniel Duguid.
It wasn't all racing, though, with bike polo, a mountain bike stunt team doing their stuff, a vintage bikes show and a 'Go Ride' cycle skills for children taking place before the grounds were opened for leisure cycling, with over 1500 people setting off at their own pace.
Organiser Paul Orsi commented that they were "delighted with the success of the inaugural Bike Blenheim Palace event. So many aspects of cycling came together for a great day out and it really was the festival of cycling that we hoped it would be. The planning is already underway for 2009 and we have many ideas of how to make this event even bigger and better."
A full event report and results will be in issue 217 of Cycling Plus, on sale on November 7.