The Isle of Man, the one-time home of International Cycling Week, is to get a new three-day festival from 2016. Cyclefest is scheduled for May 2016 and will see professional cycling return to the island for the first time in 13 years. The island is also bidding to host the 2016 British National Road Championships later in the year.
International Cycle Week ran on the Isle of Man for almost 70 years up until 2003 and one of the major features of the festival was the Manx Trophy, which was variously won by Tom Simpson, Jacques Anquetil and more recently by David Millar. Now a new three-day festival is to take place in Ramsey in the north of the island in 2016 which will once again see leading professional teams taking part via the opening stage of the Pearl Izumi Tour Series.
The professionals will get proceedings underway on Friday 13th May, but there will be plenty of other events taking place over the course of the weekend. The Battle of Sky Hill is Cyclefest’s mountain bike race, which will start and finish at Milntown Estate, taking in repeated ascents of the titular climb; while Storm the Climb is a traditional British hill climb – a 1.5 mile time trial taking place on a section of the iconic TT motorcycle course. There will also be a 72-mile sportive and shorter, family-friendly mass participation rides, as well as food, drink and cycling-themed entertainment.
Director of Cyclefest, Paul Phillips, told the BBC that he was hoping for an "epic year for cycling on the Isle of Man," and added: "We are trying to create a standout experience that can capitalise on the growing popularity of cycling and make a significant contribution to the local economy."
With a population of just 85,000, the Isle of Man has provided more than its fair share of elite cyclists in recent years. Mark Cavendish is clearly the best known example and last year he was succeeded as British national champion by fellow Manxman, Peter Kennaugh. These riders may have home advantage next year as the island is now bidding to host the 2016 British Cycling National Road Championships. British Cycling is due to announce their decision on or before March 20.