Great Western Sportive – preview

If you fancy adding a ‘century ride’ to your summer programme, you could do worse than tackle the 170km Wilier Gauntlet, which takes place on Sunday June 17.

Riders on the Great Western Sportive. The 2012 event will be held on Sunday June 17

This Wiltshire-based offering from Southern Sportive is the longest of three routes offered for the event, and takes in 2,100 metres of climbing through the Marlborough Downs.

The good news is that there’s still time to enter this challenging but picturesque event.

The mid-point of the route offers the greatest climbing challenge, with six consecutive climbs that between them account for a third of the total ascent.

Not far from the start of the route at the headquarters of the Nationwide Building Society in Swindon lies the climb of Hackpen Hill near Avebury.

A 350-metre ascent draws the rider towards a white horse etched in chalk into the hillside, and the Ridgeway,  a highway used for more than 5,000 years.

What goes up, must come down, and the climb of Hackpen Hill flows into a swooping descent broken briefly by a short climb into the village of Ogbourne St George.

Further on lies the climb of Round Hill, another climb rewarded with a flowing descent, this time for 13km through the Kennett Valley, broken by a few climbs as the rider moves along quiet roads into the picturesque Lambourne Valley.

Two riders tackle the climb of Hackpen Hill

The next section is more challenging: a 30km run littered with short, sharp climbs in quick succession. Again, the climbing ends with a fast flowing descent, this time from a ridge offering views across Oxfordshire.

Respite, however, is brief, and a further ascent of the ridge soon beckons, this time up the slope of Blowing Stone Hill, a rock, which according to legend, King Arthur used to shout through to call his troops to battle.

The top of the climb offers a period of respite extended by a 10km descent through the Lambourne Valley before the climb of Kingstone Down and the final cresting of the Ridgeway.

Liddington Hill lies ahead in the final section of the route, one that is challenging and laden with beautiful views.

Two more moderate challenges are offered: the 107km mid route, and the 81km short route, meaning the Great Western Sportive has something for most riders.

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Southern Sportive

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