As a qualifying round of the UCI’s Gran Fondo World Series, the Tour of Cambridgeshire gives you two chances to qualify for 2017 the World Championships. For 2017 the World Championship event will be held in Albi in south-west France, near the city of Toulouse. So if you have never ridden a Gran Fondo before or ridden in a UCI World Championship race before, then you had better get your entry in.
The Tour of Cambridgeshire is a two-day event ridden on closed roads around the Fenlands of Cambridgshire. Day one is given over to the Chrono, the race of Truth. The 26.55km route will be tackled by eight-hundred riders setting off at twenty-second intervals. Riders will compete in age and sex categories and if they beat the qualifying time will be able to ride at the World Champs, with the chance to take home a UCI World Champion’s jersey, not many of those about on your local club run!
The Chrono is always well represented and once again sold out within days of entries being open. There is a chance to ride a Team Chrono race, but details have not been released yet. Once they are we’ll let you know what the format is and whether there will be a UCI jersey up for grabs as well!
Following the Saturday Chrono action, comes the Gran Fondo on Sunday. Again ridden on closed roads, the Gran Fondo gives riders various options of how to ride the event. At the front of the Gran Fondo will be the race “community”. This group will be racing in separate age categories, with prizes and medals for the first three in each category.
While the race group are vying for podium spots, all is not lost if you don’t make it onto the top step. Riders who finish within the top 25% of their Masters Age/Gender Classification, will qualify for the World Championships. Last year I punctured out of the lead group with thirty kilometres to go – read my report here – despite using up a year’s worth of swearing, I managed to finish within the time cut. So plenty of reason to keep pushing hard to finish.
You can also qualify by riding in the sportive communities and making the same time cut as the race group. However, if you are intending to ride in the World Championships I would recommend riding in the race category, the bunches at the World Champs are big and move fast. You’ll want to get as much experience riding in a big group before next year.
I’ve ridden the Tour of Cambridgeshire three times now and have thoroughly enjoyed the event each time. Racing on closed roads is a great experience and the support you get from the public is incredible. If you have grown up racing in secret, with early starts and finishes held in the middle of nowhere with no-one watching or caring, then the Tour of Cambridgeshire will be an eye opener. Everything is big, the bunches, the start area, the crowds, the logistics, this is no small event. The suffering is the same, but being cheered by fans on the road side helps you push that little bit harder.
The whole weekend takes part in the Peterborough Arena Showground, which is a huge venue, with loads of parking, there’s a cycling Expo for you to peruse and plenty of toilets and catering concessions. The Friday even sees a Tour of Colour event to get you in the mood. This is a 5k fun run where you run through colour zones, being bombarded with paint. It then finishes with music and an after party; perhaps one for your race crew?
With the Chrono already sold out and the Gran Fondo limited to 8000, you may want to get your entry in soon. The organisers are keen to expand the non-racing side of the event and there is a shorter 88km route for those who don’t fancy the full 120k. They are also adding specific categories for tandems and trikes, recumbents, fixed wheel, folding bikes and also classic bikes; so everyone can get in the action.
With 2016’s final taking place in Western Australia, I imagine many people will have held off travelling and will instead be focusing on 2017 and Albi. I have put it down as my big target for next year, the holiday and accommodation are already booked and spaces are already scarce. I rode the 2015 final in Aalborg, Denmark – read my report here – and was blown away by the whole experience.
If you get one chance to ride an event like this, I can fully recommend it. You’ll be riding against some serious veteran racers; ex-pros, ex-Olympians and top amateurs this is no push over. You’ll want to get some serious training and racing in, riding sportives alone will not be enough to prepare you. The Tour of Cambridgeshire is perfect for this, not only is it a qualifying round, but it will let you experience the kind of racing that is Gran Fondo. Just do it, as someone once said!
Compare prices and buy road bikes from:
|Chain Reaction||Wiggle||Evans Cycles||Hargroves Cycles|
|Merlin Cycles||Rutland Cycling||Cyclestore||ProBikeKit|
|Ribble Cycles||AW Cycles||Biketart||Cycle Surgery|
|Leisure Lakes Bikes||HandslingBikes|