The buzz will be electric as more than 5,600 riders use pedal power to course their way round one of the UK’s most iconic cycling routes this weekend – Etape Loch Ness.
Participants in Sunday’s cycling extravaganza will be joined by two of Scotland’s most formidable female endurance cyclists, record-breaking round the world cyclist Jenny Graham and Scotland Commonwealth Games mountain biker Lee Craigie, who has recently been appointed Active Scotland Commissioner.
It’s not just an event for the UK’s top riders though as Etape Loch Ness attracts participants of all abilities, including those signing up for a personal challenge or charitable cause. Many cyclists will be riding the event for causes close to their hearts, including more than 1,000 participants cycling for charity partner Macmillan Cancer Support.
The 66-mile route gives participants a unique experience – to ride one of Scotland’s iconic cycling routes on roads closed to other traffic. The sportive circles the world-famous loch and includes the daunting King of the Mountain stage – a challenging 4.8 mile climb which rises to 380m – which will prove the ultimate test to participants.
It’s also a great spectacle to watch and the action over Etape Loch Ness weekend will be concentrated on the event hub at Eden Court in Inverness, close to the start and finish line.
Event director Malcolm Sutherland said: ‘Etape Loch Ness has become one of the most popular events in the Scottish cycling calendar, taking riders past some of the most stunning scenery in the country and all on roads that are closed to traffic.
‘We’re delighted to be drawing in thousands of cyclists from all over Scotland and further afield who will be able to see for themselves what the Highlands has to offer by way of cycling experiences.
‘It’s an exhilarating ride with jaw-dropping views to take in and the atmosphere and camaraderie is always amazing. We look forward to that spirit and buzz spreading through the Highlands during this, our sixth Etape Loch Ness.’
Will Morrison Ayton, challenge events programme manager for Macmillan Cancer Support, added: ‘Without the support of events Like Etape Loch Ness, and our incredible supporters who take part, Macmillan couldn’t do the work that it does.
‘A huge thank you to those who have chosen to cycle for Macmillan – this year’s event is predicted to raise over £230,000. We are delighted to have over 1,000 participants taking part in this fantastic event for Macmillan Cancer Support.’
The first riders will set off on Sunday morning at 6.15am from Bught Park in the Highland capital. The fastest riders home are expected to cross the finishing line at Eden Court from 9am onwards, with the majority of riders arriving before 1pm.
Throughout the weekend, some roads in the Inverness and Loch Ness area will be closed temporarily to ensure the safety of the cyclists and other road users. Full closure details are available on the website https://www.etapelochness.com/
Sponsors and partners of the 2019 Etape Loch Ness are Highland Council, The Singleton of Glen Ord, Shand Cycles, High 5, Cycle Republic, JBT, Fuel10K, Cromarty Brewing Co and Harry Gow Bakery.
Macmillan Cancer Support works extensively across the Highlands and the rest of the UK, and is the official charity partner of Etape Loch Ness for the fifth year running. Over 98% of the charity’s £247.4 million income in 2017 was generated from voluntary donations. It uses the money to pay for a wide range of healthcare, support and information services, including cancer care nurse specialists and mobile information centres.