Bike Blenheim Palace back with new sportive and cyclo-cross events
And get the chance to say hello to Jeremy Clarkson… well, sort of
Bike Blenheim Palace, launched last year, returns to the Oxfordshire seat of the Dukes of Marlborough, and Sir Winston Churchill’s birthplace, on Sunday 4 October, with new events including a sportive ride through the scenic Cotswolds countryside and cyclo-cross races around a 1.25-mile circuit in the palace grounds.
Events returning from 2008 include the 20km time trial on a closed course in Blenheim’s 2,100 acres of parkland, the inaugural edition of which was won by UK time trial champion Michael Hutchinson, and the Brompton World Championships, which in 2008 attracted 400 riders, with Britain’s Alistair Kay outsprinting former Vuelta winner, Roberto Heras, to win.
There will also be an event village, including demonstrations of bike polo and mountain biking as well as trade stands, and in the afternoon the grounds, normally closed to cyclists, will be open to the public to ride around.
The organisers hope to build on the success of last year’s event, which attracted 4,500 competitors and spectators, and expect 1,000 riders to sign up for the new sportive alone, the route of which – perhaps unintentionally – passes the front door of Top Gear presenter and bête noire of the cycling community, Jeremy Clarkson, near Chipping Norton, before heading off to the Gloucestershire hill-top town of Stow-on-the-Wold.
Shortly after, at Lower Swell, the route splits, with riders on the 60-mile circuit turning back towards Blenheim, while those on the longer, 100-mile ride continue towards Cheltenham before heading north to skirt the picturesque village of Broadway before rejoining the shorter circuit.
Full details of the day’s programme, as well as information about how to register, can be found on the Bike Blenheim Palace website. The palace, a World Heritage Site, is located in the historic market town of Woodstock, eight miles north of Oxford and also hosts the Blenheim Triathlon (pictured).