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).
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.