The Tour of Cambridgeshire and it’s younger Scottish sibling, the Tour of Ayrshire will soon be upon us. These events are unique to the UK cycling scene as they are both qualifying events for the finale of the UCI’s Gran Fondo World Series. This nineteen event series has rounds in seventeen countries with this year’s final taking place in Albi, France. Both events are weekend long festivals of cycling that include plenty to keep you interested.
The Tour of Cambridgeshire has added five competitive events that take place within the Peterborough Arena showground. There’s Fixie Racing, a Team Gravel Enduro, an E-bike Time Trial, a cyclo-cross race and a folding bike race that will include folding! Plenty of variety to keep you interested while waiting for the main events!
On the Fondo side, there is now a Medio Fondo, a Classic Bike Fondo and finally a Family Fondo. The Medio Fondo is a sportive of ninety kilometres, which will also use closed roads. The Classic Bike Fondo is for pre-1987 bikes and will be an excuse to break out those old woollen shorts and toe clips!
The Family Fondo will give you and the kids a chance to ride around the closed road circuit of the Peterborough Showground. DJs will keep the music going to encourage the riders while they complete four, eight or twelve miles. If you’re down on the Saturday it could be a great way to keep them busy while you sign on and look at the Expo!
The Medio Fondo and Classic Bike Fondo will also feature at the Tour of Ayrshire over the 29th and 30th April first. The Classic Bike Fondo could be the first “closed road, timed, race for pre-1987 bikes, anywhere in the world”, according to Steve Clarke of The Light Blue cycles company.
With the current interest in retro steel frames could this be the start of a Classic Bike race series? When asked, Tom Caldwell of Golazo Cycling – organisers of the ToC and ToA – said “If there is a demand for a series then we will look carefully at what this might be, engage with the classic bike community and see where it takes us.”
If you can’t make it to the Tour of Cambridgeshire then you can now watch it on the BIKE Channel instead. They will be recording the Chrono on Saturday 3rd June and the Gran Fondo on Sunday 4th June. Filippo Ubaldini, CEO of BIKE Channel commented: “The UCI Tour of Cambridgeshire is the perfect event for BIKE Channel fans to be a part of. Age categorised racing across the weekend on closed roads are a must for any road cyclist, and now for the first time, you will be able to see the event on TV.”
In just three years the Tour of Cambridgeshire has become a sell out weekend of cycling. With the addition of the Tour of Ayrshire the UK now has two closed road qualifying events for this UCI series. While the Tour of Ayrshire has some places left, the Tour of Cambridgeshire’s Chrono was sold out in days. If you’re quick you may still get in. This year’s final in Albi promises some tough racing in a beautiful part of the world.
I’ll be riding the Tour of Cambridgeshire and aiming to qualify for Albi, I’ve already booked my holiday, so no pressure! If you have never ridden a closed road event before then be prepared for a great day’s riding/racing. You’ll be cheered around the route by crowds of people, the bunting will be out and it’s a proper event. No more skulking around back lanes, hoping white van man doesn’t ruin the ride. You’ll have the road to yourself, well apart from eight thousand other cyclists!
If you’re used to racing around an eight mile loop in a small bunch then be prepared for a completely different experience! While the bunch is large and you can safely draft in the pack, some of the lanes are small and you’ll need your wits about you to keep your position. The route, while not hilly, can be windy and towards the end starts to roll. At just short of eighty miles it’s a tough one and the speed will be high. This will be my third time riding and after last year’s puncture with twenty miles to go and mad chase that just saw me qualify, I’m looking for a decent finish!
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