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Cycling Top Six: UK sportives for 2011

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Six rides to test your mettle

It’s official – the United Kingdom has been gripped by cyclosportive fever. Every year, we see countless new events added to the calendar. Whether ridden like a race or taken at languid Sunday morning pace, there’s sure to be an event in 2011 which ticks the box for you.

That said, some sportives have become so popular that wannabe competitors are left twitching over their mouse as the clock strikes midnight and entries open. This year’s Dragon Ride, for example, sold out in less than a day.

And so while it may only be January, it’s time to grab the diary and set yourself a goal for 2011. Here’s six recommended rides which still have places up for grabs. Be warned – they’re tough. 

Cheshire Cat – Sunday March 27

The Wiggle Cheshire Cat, on the first day of British summertime, kicks off the sportive season in earnest with 100, 67 or 45 miles of Peak District pain.

Just shy of 3,000 riders signed up for the 2010 event and the longest route tackles nearly 5,000ft of ascent – this is more than an early-season leg-stretcher. The 45-mile route, however, is largely flat and perfect for beginners.

The two longer rides both tackle the infamous ‘killer mile’, Mow Cop, early in the ride and cost £32.50 to enter, while the 45 miler costs £15. Numbers and timing chips are posted out to riders in advance, meaning no queues on the big day.

Entries close one week before the event and can be made here. To see kilotogo’s full sportive calendar, head this way

Fred Whitton Challenge – Sunday May 8

The Saddleback Fred Whitton Challenge is a gruelling 112-mile charity ride around the Lake District, run in memory of Fred Whitton. It starts and finishes at Coniston, and the route includes the climbs of Kirkstone, Honister, Newlands, Whinlatter, Hardknott and Wrynose passes.

The entry fee remains the same as last year, £40, and includes a free Fred Whitton Challenge t-shirt, electronic timing, two feed stations, a meal at the finish, a certificate of your ride and free parking at Coniston Sports Centre field.

And after expenses all remaining money from the entry fee, and all the sponsorship raised, is donated to the event’s charities.

A tough ride for a great cause; what more could you want? Entries close on Monday January 17 so be quick and secure your place here

Dartmoor Classic – Sunday June 26

The Dartmoor Classic is a guaranteed sell-out – and it’s no surprise why. Thought by many to be the UK’s premier cyclosportive, the Classic offers both a 106-mile and 65-mile route through the spectacular, and hilly, Dartmoor National Park.

The longer ride tackles and incredible 3,470m of climbing – with a host of sharp climbs like that in the photograph left – while the short route won’t leave you feeling short-changed, with 2,163 of ascent.

Entry costs £27 for either course – www.dartmoorclassic.co.uk

Head over to page two to view RCUK’s final three recommended rides

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