An impressive 8,000 cyclists took to the closed roads of the Fens at the 2016 Tour of Cambridgeshire and ESP popped down to see them off…
A new world record was set, tens of thousands were raised for charities and there was amazing support from local communities as the cyclists set off from Peterborough Arena over the weekend of June 4 & 5 for the second Tour of Cambridgeshire cycle event.
It is the only qualifying round of the World Amateur Championships in the UK making it a very prestigious and important event in the cycling calendar – and a fantastic event for the city! This meant it attracted not only thousands of local cyclists and the rest of the UK but many from Europe and several from America, Asia and even one from Australia who had all come especially for the event.
Dozens of local cycling clubs and individual riders took part and it was an amazing sight as they filed out of Alwalton in glorious sunny weather after the leader of Peterborough City Council, Cllr John Holditch waved the start flag.
The weekend kicked off with the Tour of Colour run on Friday evening at Peterborough Arena where over 700 people of all ages took part in the most colourful run Peterborough has probably ever seen.
Saturday saw the world’s largest mass participation time trial take place with nearly 800 cyclists riding individually against the clock on a 26.5km (16.5 miles) closed road circuit. The top 25% of finishers in each age category earned the right to represent their country at the Amateur World Time Trial Championships in Perth Australia in September. The fastest male was Colin Ward in a time of 36 mins 44 seconds and the fastest female was Chanel Mason in 41:38 both of whom can now represent Great Britain at the World Championships.
The main event of the weekend was Sunday’s Gran Fondo where 7,000 cyclists took to a 129km (80 miles) closed road circuit of the Fens. A gran fondo is similar to a marathon where the front is a race while those further back are out to test themselves, ride with friends and club mates, raise money for charity or simply enjoy the traffic free roads. First person home was Belgian man Hakim Verbeure in 3:15 while first women back was GB’s Elizabeth Stedman in 3:23. Most people took between five and six hours to complete the course with the last group back taking 7.5 hours. The Gran Fondo was also a qualifying event for the Amateur World Championships where again the top 25% in each age category earned the right to represent their country.
There was nothing but praise from riders regarding the circuit and the incredible amount of support from people along the route. Every village seemed to have embraced the event and lots of people had come out to cheer on riders for many hours. There were lots of picnics, BBQ’s and handmade signs and shouts of encouragement, which the riders really appreciated especially towards the end, as people enjoyed the spectacle from the roadside.
Tom Caldwell from the organisers Golazo said, “Once again I am completely overwhelmed by the amazing reception not just from cyclists taking part but the support of the locals. Every village along the route embraced the event and we have had nothing but praise from riders taking part on how much they appreciated the encouragement from the crowds at the roadside all day.
“We broke a world record on Saturday, gave UK riders the opportunity to qualify for the Amateur World Championships, raised tens of thousands of pounds for many different charities and brought a lot of people to Cambridgeshire. We’re looking forward to making the event even better next year and bringing even more people to this part of the UK.”
The 2017 Tour of Cambridgeshire Chrono and Gran Fondo will take place from Peterborough Arena over the weekend of June 3 – 4 next year and we can’t wait to see this fantastic event return to the city.
Photos: Emma Bothamley for ESP Magazine