Riding next year's Etape Loch Ness? Here's news to lift your spirits: The Singleton of Glen Ord Distillery has signed up as sponsor for the Etape's King of the Mountain challenge - a 4.8 mile climb out of Fort Augustus that rises to a dizzying 380m in height.

The whisky distillery, which is based just a few miles from the course on the Black Isle, will also be congratulating cyclists who make it around the route with a two-for-one offer for its distillery tours, ensuring both riders and their supporters can toast the day's success.

Hold my pint: Riders take a shot at KOM glory on the Etape Loch Ness.
Hold my pint: Riders take a shot at KOM glory on the Etape Loch Ness.

Etape Loch Ness takes place on 28th April 2019, with 5,600 cyclists expected to take on the 66-mile circular route around the iconic landmark on traffic-free roads. Hundreds of riders will be taking part for good causes, including official charity partner Macmillan Cancer Support.

Special jerseys are awarded to the fastest male and female cyclists on the King of the Mountain stage. The KOM climb starts as cyclists leave Fort Augustus and rises to the Glendoe Summit, gaining 380m in height.

The Singleton of Glen Ord Distillery brand home manager Alastair Orr said the event - and the King of the Mountain section - was a perfect fit for the distillery.

A veteran of all five previous Etape Loch Ness events, Alastair explained: "The brand slogan for The Singleton is 'unapologetically enjoyed' and that's exactly what I feel about that hill! It is difficult, it is challenging, but it is also one of the most enjoyable sections in an absolutely fantastic event.

"We are thrilled to be a part of Etape Loch Ness: amazing scenery, great company, Loch Ness and now a whisky distillery - it is everything that is iconic about Scotland rolled into one.

"Etape Loch Ness has grown into a phenomenally popular event, and one which has become a bucket list event for cyclists of all abilities. It attracts thousands of people into the area every year, and as a five-star visitor attraction, that has to be good news for us and for other tourism-related businesses.

"The visitor centre is the only place in the UK - indeed the only place outside of Asia - where it is possible to buy The Singleton of Glen Ord, so those who do visit will also be able to get a unique souvenir of their Etape Loch Ness experience."

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Event director Malcolm Sutherland added: "We are delighted to welcome The Singleton of Glen Ord Distillery on board as an event partner and hope that many of our riders will take the opportunity to visit the distillery while they are in the area.

"We are incredibly lucky to have the support of many fantastic partners and we are indebted to their support. Once again this year, all general entry places sold out in under 51 hours and only a limited number of places remain for riders who commit to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

"Over the past five years of Etape Loch Ness, Macmillan has been able to raise over £1m through our riders. We ask that riders with a charity place pledge to raise a minimum of £100 for Macmillan - it's a relatively small amount, but one which can make a huge difference to people living with cancer."

Other event partners include Shand Cycles, High 5, Cycle Republic, JBT, Cromarty Brewing Co, Harry Gow, Highland Council and Parcelinq.

Starting in Inverness, the Etape Loch Ness route follows the A82 along the northern side before passing through Fort Augustus onto the south side. The route then continues around the southern side of the loch before returning to the event hub at Eden Court in Inverness.

To sign up for one of the last remaining places available for Macmillan Cancer Support, visit www.etapelochness.com.