The UK’s first ever competitive gran fondo will take place in Cambridgeshire next year. It could be a watershed moment for amateur, non-categorised racing in the UK.
The 10,000 rider, closed-road Tour of Cambridgeshire is described by organisers Vericool Sports Management as the “UK's first truly authentic continental style closed road gran fondo” and will take place on 7 June, 2015.
The event takes its cue from European gran fondos – competitive at the front of the race, but with plenty of scope for traditional sportive leisureliness for anyone who doesn’t want to get caught up in racing. Those wishing to race will be seeded into specific groups leading the route.
Based from Peterborough Arena, the 132km loop through Cambridgeshire countryside promises a mix of flats with small sharp climbs, terrain that the organiser likens to that found in Belgium. There will be the obligatory well-stocked feed stations as well as mechanical and medical assistance along the course to look after riders during the event.
Saturday 6 June will also see the UK’s first ever UCI World Cycling Tour event – the 28km closed-road Tour of Cambridgeshire Chrono. Riders will start the course from a professional race style ramp with electronic chip timing to ensure accuracy.
The rider limit for the Chrono is 700, but it is open to all levels. The first 25 per cent in each masters age category in both male and female will be invited by the UCI to compete in the 2015 UCI World Amateur Road Championships time trial in Denmark in September.
The male and female winners of both the Gran Fondo and Chrono will each receive £1,500 and there will also be equal prizes for male and female masters age group classifications. Combined prizes for the overall on both events will also be awarded.
Vericool Sports Management’s Tom Caldwell explained how the event came about: “Until now British riders have had to travel abroad to compete in proper closed road gran fondos, so when the UCI approached us about organising the UCWT level time trial and we secured the closed roads, we realised this is the right time to bring a truly authentic race / sportive gran fondo to the UK. It’s been a lot of hard work and investment to get to this stage but worth it to have the first events of their kind in the UK.”
Entry for the Gran Fondo is £56 and the Chrono, £34, with a limited joint entry of £80 also available.
Find out more at www.tourofcambridgeshire.com.