A closed-road sportive that makes its debut next year in one of Britain’s most spectacular locations – the shores of Loch Ness – has proved such a draw that organisers filled all 1,000 places within hours of entries opening on Thursday.
The inaugural 107km Etape Loch Ness will take place on Sunday 4 May 2014 in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.
The route, which starts and finishes in Inverness, takes riders along the A82 on the north shore of the loch past Drumnadrochit, Invermoriston and Fort Augustus.
Riders will return to the Highland capital along the quieter south shore on General Wade’s Military Road, built in the wake of the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion.
Event director Malcolm Sutherland told BBC News Highlands & Islands: "Road cycling in the UK is undergoing an incredible resurgence and that's largely down to the success in recent years for British cyclists competing on the international stage.
"I've long held the belief that Loch Ness would be the perfect venue for an iconic and professionally-organised road cycling event that appeals to experienced and novice cyclists from both the UK and overseas.
"It feels like the time is right to launch such an event, and all the signs are pointing towards it being hugely popular," he added.
Those lucky enough to have secured a place will have the opportunity to compete for a King of the Mountains prize shortly after the route passes Fort Augustus and swings back towards Inverness – there’s a 9km climb with a height gain of 380m and a gradient that hits 12 per cent.
Partial or full road closures will take place along the length of the route.
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.