Pre-registration has opened today for Vélo Essex, a new, 100-mile closed road sportive starting and finishing in Chelmsford and which makes its debut on Sunday 20 September.
Forming part of the Vélo Series alongside the existing Vélo Birmingham & Midlands, 15,000 places will be available exclusively to people who have pre-registered when they go on sale on Thursday 26 February.
Richard Relton, chief executive of event organisers Active Sport, said: “We are hugely excited to announce the launch of Vélo Essex.
“Taking place on Sunday 20 September, this brand new sportive will offer thousands of riders of all levels of ability an unforgettable experience of riding through the beautiful County of Essex on completely closed-roads.
“Thanks to all of the support from our local authority partners we’re confident that this event will continue the legacy of cycling within Essex – inspiring thousands of riders of all ages and abilities throughout the county to take part and reap the benefits of cycling on a more regular basis.”
Besides the 100-mile route, there will also be a 50-mile option and a free family ride, as well as a cycling festival in Chelmsford’s Hylands Park.
Almost half of the 100-mile route follows roads that featured on Stage 3 of the 2014 Tour de France, when the race passed through Essex on its way from Cambridge to London.
The official ambassador for the event is the Israel Start-Up Nation rider, Alex Dowsett, who comes from Essex.
“I’m really proud to be part of Vélo Essex – brand new closed-road sportive in the lanes I grew up training in,” he said.
“Whilst many other pros would move to warmer shores to train over the off-season, I’ve always believed that Essex is one of the most beautiful places to ride in the World and opted to stay and train here.
“I can’t wait for everyone else to see all that Essex has to offer.”
Councillor Ray Gooding, Essex County Council cabinet member for education and skills, commented: “Vélo Essex will be a great event involving thousands of people, many of whom will be coming to Essex for the first time.
“This event will showcase the beautiful countryside and wonderful towns we enjoy in Essex.
“Cycling is a healthy activity with the added benefit it improves the environment by cutting down on carbon emissions.
“A strategic priority of Essex County Council is to improve the health of people in Essex and our support for Vélo Essex is a foundation in our approach to achieving this priority,” he added.
While well supported by participants and many local residents, Vélo Series events have tended to attract small but vociferous opposition from people and businesses concerned about the impact of road closures.
It would be surprising if Vélo Essex - said to be the biggest mass participation event in the county's history - proved to be an exception.
It's the fourth event launched under the Vélo Series banner since the initial Vélo Birmingham in 2017, but the concept has been beset by problems.
In 2018, the planned second edition of Vélo Birmingham was postponed, eventually being held last year under its new name of Vélo Birmingham & Midlands.
2018 also saw the planned Vélo South in Essex abandoned on the weekend it was due to be held due to storm warnings, while Vélo North, set to have made its debut this year in County Durham, was scrapped due to insufficient entries.
However, the planned Vélo South in Sussex was cancelled in
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.