The organisers of the Vélo Series in the UK have today announced that pre-registration for a brand new closed-road sportive in Essex is now open. Taking place on Sunday 20th September, Vélo Essex – the sister event of Vélo Birmingham & Midlands – will offer 15,000 riders a unique opportunity to ride on completely traffic-free roads across the county’s roads and lanes.
With 100 and 50 mile route options, a Free Family Ride and a Cycling Festival within Hylands Park, the new sportive is set to become ‘the biggest participation event in Essex’s history’.
Having hosted Stage 3 of the 2014 Tour de France from Cambridge to London and produced some of Britain’s best time trialists, the county of Essex has a rich cycling history.
The new event is open to riders of all ages and abilities. With over 15,000 places across the 100 and 50 mile routes, and thousands more available for the Free Family Ride, the organisers expect that ‘Vélo Essex will become one of the UK’s top three biggest cycling events in its inaugural year and the biggest participation event in Essex’s history.’
The event will start & finish within Hylands Park just outside of Chelmsford. Located under an hour from London and easily accessible from most major cities, ‘Vélo Essex will be the only other alternative Southern closed-road sportive from the overly subscribed Prudential Ride London.’
Building on its role as host during the 2014 Tour de France, the organisers have worked hard to re-trace the 2014 Stage 3 route, with nearly half of the 100 mile route using the same roads as that memorable day in 2014.
The ‘Grand Tour of Essex’ will take riders through villages and towns like Finchingfield and Saffron Walden. With just 1,200m of climbing on the 100 mile event and 600m on the 50 mile option, ‘both routes are very achievable to any level of rider.’
In addition to the three routes, there will also be a ‘Cycling Festival’ within Hylands Park across the weekend. This will feature cycling-themed activities, food and drink, live Q&As, live music and other family activities.
The event will also offer a host of camping options within Hylands Park on Saturday. This aims to add to the event’s festival feel.
Local hero, and professional UCI World Tour rider, Alex Dowsett is an official ambassador for the event. Commenting on the inaugural Vélo Essex event he said ‘I’m really proud to be part of Vélo Essex – a brand new closed-road sportive in the lanes I grew up training in.
“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 have opted to stay and train here. I can’t wait for everyone else to see all that Essex has to offer.”
Cllr Ray Gooding, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said “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.”
Richard Relton, Chief Executive of event organiser Active Sport, said “We are hugely excited to announce the launch of Vélo Essex. Taking place on Sunday 20th 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.”
Captain of the winning 2003 Rugby World Cup England team, Martin Johnson CBE, added “It’s fantastic to be involved in the launch of a brand new closed-road Sportive – one of just two in the south. Since hanging up my boots from professional rugby, I have fallen in love with cycling and the many benefits it offers. Last year’s Vélo Birmingham & Midlands event was one of my best days ever on the bike, so I can’t wait to see if Vélo Essex can top it!”
Vélo Essex is also expected to raise millions of pounds for a range of local and national charities. The event has officially partnered with Prostate Cancer UK and the Active Essex Foundation, a local charity promoting opportunities for everyone in Essex to engage in physical activity and sport. This is in addition to the thousands of participants who will raise money with family and friends in support of charities which are particularly close to them.
Pre-registration is now open to those that would like to register their interest in taking part. Entries will open exclusively to those who have pre-registered from February 26th.