Here's some news to cheer up anyone who's missed out in this week's RideLondon ballot: Active Sport, the organisers of the Vélo Series, have today announced Vélo Essex, a brand new closed-roads sportive taking place this September.
Taking place on Sunday 20th September, Vélo Essex will offer 15,000 riders a unique opportunity to ride on completely traffic-free roads across the County's iconic roads and lanes.
Pre-registration is open now at www.veloessex.com.
A sister event to the hugely successful Vélo Birmingham & Midlands, Vélo Essex will offer 100 and 50 mile route options, a Free Family Ride and a Cycling Festival within Hylands Park.
The 100-mile route will retrace much of Stage 3 of 2014's Tour de France. With just 1,200 metres of climbing on the 100 mile event and 600 metres on the 50 mile option, it promises to be a fast course and both routes look very achievable to any level of rider.
With mile upon mile of beautiful rolling British countryside, Essex is renowned as one of the most stunning places to ride a bike within the UK. Having hosted Stage 3 of the 2014 Tour de France from Cambridge to London and produced some of Britain's best time trialists - including multiple national champion Alex Dowsett - Essex has a rich cycling history.
2014's Tour visit saw thousands of cycling fans lining the roadsides and treating the pro's to some of the most incredible support ever seen. In the organisers' words, "it's now time for the amateurs to experience their very own 'Grand Tour of Essex'."
Local hero and WorldTour pro Alex Dowsett is an official ambassador for the event.
Commenting on the launch, 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 opted to stay and train here. I can't wait for everyone else to see all that Essex has to offer."
A festival of cycling
Vélo Essex is open to riders of all ages and abilities, and promises a true weekend festival of closed-road cycling. With over 15,000 places across the 100 & 50 mile routes, and thousands more available for the Free Family Ride, it's expected 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.
Event HQ is 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 chronically over-subscribed Prudential RideLondon.
In addition to the three routes, there will also be a 'Cycling Festival' within Hylands Park across the weekend that will feature cycling-themed activities, great food and drink, live Q&As, live music and fun for all the family. The event will also offer a host of camping options within Hylands Park on Saturday, adding to the event's festival feel and providing riders with the opportunity to enjoy an unrivalled weekend within Essex.
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 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!"
As well as helping to inspire a new generation of cyclists within the region, 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 - the only UK-wide organisation solely focused on beating prostate cancer - and the Active Essex Foundation, a local charity promoting opportunities for everyone in Essex to engage in physical activity and sport. This is of course in addition to the thousands of participants which will raise money with family and friends in support of charities which are particularly close to them.
How to enter
Pre-registration for Vélo Essex is now open to those that would like to register their interest. Entries will open exclusively to those who have pre-registered from February 26th, so sign up today to avoid missing out.
For more details and to pre-register, visit www.veloessex.com.