Further proof, were it needed, of the seemingly unstoppable rise in the popularity of cycling arrives with news that a pro-am race is to be televised.
Channel Four and British Eurosport will broadcast highlights of The Trois Etapes, a four-day race that last year raised $1.7m for good causes – more than any pro-am golf tournament.
The race, in which seven-strong teams of amateurs will compete under the leadership of a pro cyclist who will race alongside them, takes in some of the most grueling climbs of the Alps.
This year’s race takes place in the Maurienne Valley, from July 26 to 29, and is set to be contested by 14 charity teams, each raising funds for good causes including Prostate Cancer UK, Walking with the Wounded, Right To Play, and World Bicycle Relief.
Carlos Sastre, winner of the 2008 Tour de France, will be among the professionals taking part.
Broadcasters say the 30-minute highlights package will focus on the pro-am format of the Trois Etape, and highlight the stories of the amateur riders and the sacrifices made to raise money for their chosen charities.
Performance data comparing the pros and amateurs will feature in the highlights, comparing the efforts of the riders.
Each team will be supported by a team car, which will remain in contact with the riders via race radio.
Riders will compete in team time trials on each of the four days. The action will open with a prologue on flat terrain, before the riders head to the mountains for the final three stages.
Teams compete for prize funds to be donated to their chosen charities; an approach designed to incentivise tactical riding.