Entries are now open for the 2013 edition of one of the UK’s top sportives, the Virgin Money Cyclone Challenge, which takes place on Saturday 29 June and forms part of what has become established as one the biggest weekends in the British cycling calendar.
The four-day cycling festival gets going on the evening of Thursday 27 June with what will be the inaugural Tyne 6 Bridges Ride, aimed at families and novices – the first edition should have been held this year, but was cancelled due to freak storms that battered the North East. There are two distances on offer, 9.5 and 14.5 miles.
The evening of Friday 28 June sees the return of the popular Leazes Criterium races, with a programme ranging from youth to elite riders, and the latter will be back again on the Sunday for Premier Calendar race, the Beaumont Trophy.
In 2011, that race doubled as the national road championship, with Bradley Wiggins coming out victorious, while Lizzie Armitstead took the honours in the women’s race, which proved such a success that it led to a new race this summer, the Curlew Cup - that returns next year, too.
Sandwiched between those is the Virgin Money Cyclone Challenge ride on the Saturday, with 4,000 riders taking on one of three routes – 33 miles, 63 miles, or 104 miles. Full details of those rides, plus how to sign up, can be found on the Virgin Money Cyclone website.
Although the profile of British cycling has never been higher internationally, concerns have been raised about the amount of top quality domestic racing, with the Premier Calendar, for example, comprising just six races in 2013, the lowest number since it started two decades ago.
Despite that, Virgin Money Cyclone organiser Peter Harrison reckons an exciting 12 months lie ahead for cycling in Britain, whether it’s the top domestic teams battling it out for honours, or the chance for the less speedy among us to take part in the ever-growing number of sportives and similar rides.
“The elite team changes for this year will really mix things up," he said. "With Endura racing abroad, the new Madison Genesis team launching and some exciting changes with other teams, it will be fascinating to see how the 2013 season pans out.
“There is a really strong programme of sportives and mass participation events yet again for 2013 and I think the Premier Calendar elite racing series will be really strong with new and established teams such as Madison Genesis, Raleigh, Team IG Sigma Sport and Team UK Youth bringing in a mixture of youth and domestic and international experience.
“In a time of so much cycling success at an elite level, it is really important that we continue to do everything we can to use racing to inspire more people to get on their bikes. That’s the aim of the Virgin Money Cyclone weekend, and I’m really excited to have the pros riding alongside all sorts of riders – from beginners and families to committed club riders – for 2013.”
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.