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Six reasons why you should ride the Tour of Ayrshire

Fully closed road Gran Fondo and Chrono event heading to Scotland for first time

Having launched Britain’s hugely-successful first closed-road, European-style Gran Fondo event – the Tour of Cambridgeshire – in 2015, organisers Golazo Cycling are taking the concept north of the border this year for the inaugural Tour of Ayrshire.

The concept remains the same: fully closed roads, with a chrono time trial and gran fondo across the weekend, which will take place on Saturday April 29 and Sunday April 30. There’s even the chance to qualify a place in the 2017 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships.

Fancy heading to Ayrshire to ride the inaugural event? Here are six reasons to get signed up…

After the success of the Tour of Cambridgeshire, organisers Golazo Cycling have added the Tour of Ayrshire to their calendar (pic – Sportograf)

UCI Gran Fondo World Series event

It may be new for 2017, but the Tour of Ayrshire comes from the same stable as the Tour of Cambridgeshire, which has proved hugely successful so far.

That was the UK’s first fully-closed road Gran Fondo and Chrono event, and the Tour of Ayrshire takes that same concept into Scotland.

The event is part of the UCI Gran Fondo World Series (pic: Sportograf)

For those not au fait with the format, a Gran Fondo is not your typical sportive – think of it as more like a city marathon.

At the front it’s a full-on race, with those racing starting from the Race Gate, while there is also a Sport Gate for those just looking to enjoy a fully-closed-road sportive on new terrain.

With different routes to choose from too – see point two – this really is an all-inclusive event.

Five events to choose from

Over the two days in Ayrshire, there will be five events run in all: the Endura Chrono, Endura Team Chrono, Gran Fondo, Medio Fondo and Classic.

On the Saturday, at the generous start time of 10am, 500 riders will tackle the Endura Chrono – a testing 20km course rolling out of Kilmarnock’s Kay Park.

The Tour of Ayrshire features a Chrono, Team Chrono, Gran Fondo, Medio Fondo and Classic Ride (pic: Sportograf)

Boasting a large warm up area and substantial start ramp, the event will be organised according to UCI Masters age/gender classifications.

The Endura Team Chrono, meanwhile, takes place on the Saturday afternoon with teams of four riders competing on road bikes in four classifications (male, female, mixed and corporate).

The following day it’s time for the Gran Fondo, on a 112.6km course which packs in 4,627ft of climbing on traffic-free roads.

As part of the UCI Gran Fondo Word Series, there will be jerseys, medals and prizes for the top three riders in each age/gender class, while the sportive element means anybody just looking to enjoy the closed roads at a moderate average speed are catered for too.

The Medio Fondo is a shorter route, and not part of the UCI Gran Fondo World Series, but packs in 3,097ft of climbing on a 75.5km course.

Finally, the Medio Fondo route will also be used to host the Tour Classic, for pre-1987 bikes.

Closed roads for all events

The beauty of the Tour of Ayrshire (and Tour of Cambridgeshire for that matter) is the event, as mentioned, is run on fully closed roads.

Every event takes place on fully closed roads (pic: Sportograf)

Unfortunately, the opportunity to ride on fully closed roads is all too rare so it’s well worth grabbing when the chance arises.

Undulating course

The Tour of Cambridgeshire has proved a very popular event, but the terrain of the region does not lend itself to anything other than a flat course.

Golazo Cycling’s decision to head to Ayrshire means they can now offer the same Gran Fondo experience on a more challenging, undulating route.

Where the Tour of Cambridgeshire features a flat route, the Tour of Ayrshire takes place on more undulating terrain (pic: Tour of Cambridgeshire)

The 70-mile Gran Fondo route includes 4,627ft of climbing out in the East Ayrshire countryside, passing close to the River Ayr.

We’re not talking eye-wateringly steep ascents here, but enough to add an extra challenging element into the ride, all set against the picturesque backdrop of the Scottish countryside.

Race pace or leisure ride

As we’ve mentioned, the Gran Fondo is split into two distinct categories – those who want to Race, split into starting pens according to UCI Masters Age Classification (you’ll need a racing license), and those who just want to enjoy the sportive, split according to average speed.

Those in the front group are competing for a place at the 2017 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships, more of which later, as well as medals, jerseys and prizes for the top three in each category.

Gran Fondo riders are split into Race and Sport starting pens, with the Race competitors divided according to UCI Masters Age Classification (pic: Sportograf)

In the Sport category, meanwhile, the seeded start means you should have little trouble finding a group to ride with at your desired pace.

The course for both is the same, including two pit stops en route, and the same fully-closed-roads with static and mobile medical resources and motorbike outriders.

Earn entry into the 2017 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships

Competitors in the Endura Chrono (not the Endura Team Chrono) and the Gran Fondo race are competing for a place in the 2017 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships.

The top 25 per cent of the combined (race and sport) starters in each age classification will be invited to compete in the Championships in Albi, France, in August.

There are medals, jerseys and prizes for the top riders in each category, while you can also qualify for the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships (pic: Sportograf)

The top 25 per cent of each classification in the Endura Chrono will also qualify a place for Albi too, with all those looking to ride in Albi between August 27 and August 30 needing to hold a current ‘Full Racing License’ from their governing body (so British Cycling for British passport holders etc).

Tempted? Head to the event website to explore the different disciplines and sign up.

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