Organisers of the Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Caledonia are celebrating the success of this year’s event, which took place without incident yesterday, having suffered from disruption form local opponents in the past – and they have already opened pre-registration for next year’s edition, which will take place on Sunday 11 May 2014.
The fastest men’s time yesterday for the 81-mile course was set by 18-year-old Tom Arnstein from Burntisland in Fife, who clocked a time of 3 hours 28 minutes and 32 seconds.
The Strathclyde University student's time comes in within a minute of the course record held by Evan Oliphant, who a fortnight ago won the Tour of the Reservoir and with whom Arnstein has trained.
The fastest female time, meanwhile, was a new course record from Aberdeenshire’s Ashley Pearson, aged 39, who broke the existing best time by 7 minutes as she went round in 3 hours 45 minutes and 41 seconds.
The event has experienced difficulties in the past, notably in 2009 when tacks were spread on the course in an attempt to sabotage the ride. Local solicitor Alexander Grosset, a vociferous opponent of the event, was initially charged with culpably and recklessly placing carpet tacks on the road, but proceedings were subsequently dropped.
Most locals, it has to be said, welcome the event and this year's passed without undue drama, James Robinson from event organisers IMG Challenger World, commenting: “We are absolutely delighted with how well the event went this weekend.
“Once again, there was a real festival atmosphere at the finish line in Pitlochry and it was fantastic to see so many cyclists crossing it with proud smiles.
“Feedback has been extremely positive with everyone commenting on the stunning scenery on the route and the unique opportunity to enjoy these vistas on safe and traffic free roads.
“We’d also like to thank Marie Curie Cancer Care, Perth & Kinross Council, and the many sponsors involved in the event who contribute to ensuring it is a fantastic experience for cyclists.”
He went on: “We are already in planning for next year’s event and are excited about the future of the Etape Series of cycling events which include the Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Pennines and Etape Mercia events, both of which take place later this year.
“Etape Caledonia is now firmly established as one the UK’s biggest closed road sportive and we expect sign up for 2014 to be very strong indeed.”
Further details of those other events can be found on all those events can be found via the Etape Caledonia website, where you can also pre-register for next year’s ride.
That will give you a 24-hour window to make your application when entries go live later this year ahead of them put opened up to everyone – yesterday’s event sold out in just 72 hours, so being at the front of the queue might not be a bad idea.
Official charity partner of the Etape Series, Marie Curie Cancer Care, had over 1,100 cyclists raising money for it at Sunday’s event.
Some 1,100 of the 5,000 participants this year were raising money for Marie Curie Cancer Care and the charity’s Scottish Events Manager, Isobel Paul, said: "We have loved being a part of this amazing event and seeing all the cyclists cross the finish line.
“We're especially proud of all the cyclists who have completed today's challenge to raise money for us.
"Even though the race is now over, there's still plenty of time for cyclists to fundraise for Marie Curie Cancer Care.
“All the money raised will help Marie Curie Nurses continue providing free end of life care to those with terminal cancer and other life limiting illnesses in their own homes or at one of the charity's nine hospices, two of which are in Glasgow and Edinburgh."