Inverness will be the wheel deal this weekend

The eyes of the cycling world will be on Inverness this weekend, as the ever-popular Etape Loch Ness returns to the Highlands on Sunday, April 29.

Now in its fifth year, Etape Loch Ness has become one of the most popular events on the Scottish sporting calendar. Five thousand and six hundred participants will take to the roads around the iconic Loch Ness for a 66-mile round trip, taking part in a closed-road sportive hailed by many as one of the most scenic routes in the world.

Participants travel the length and breadth of the country to enjoy the breath-taking views and tackle the imposing King of the Mountain stage – a challenging 4.8-mile climb which rises to 380m.

Last year’s fastest male rider – Andy Cunningham of All Terrain Cycling who completed the course in a time of 2 hours, 48 minutes and 20 seconds– will return to attempt to better his time around the picturesque loch.

With many participants taking to the Highland sportive in aid of charity, over 1000 riders will raise funds for the event’s charity partner, Macmillan Cancer Support. Since the charity’s partnership began in 2014, Etape Loch Ness participants have raised over £730,000 for Macmillan – and it is hoped that the £1 million milestone will be reached this weekend.

Event director Malcolm Sutherland said: ‘Every year the buzz around Etape Loch Ness gets bigger and bigger, and in just a matter of days thousands of cyclists will arrive in Inverness to enjoy some of the finest cycling Scotland has to offer.

‘Once again we’re thrilled to see so many participants riding for charities and good causes, inducing our charity partner Macmillan Cancer Support.

‘We’ve been so grateful for the support of the communities and businesses in and around Inverness and Loch Ness for their support in the lead up to this weekend – and now that’s it’s almost here, we can all ensure that participants receive a warm Highland welcome.’

The first wave of riders is due to set off on Sunday morning at 6.15am from Bught Park. The fastest riders home are expected to arrive back in the Highlands capital from 9am onwards, with the majority of participants arriving before 1pm.

For spectators and participants, the event hub at Eden Court will feature mechanical support from Cycle Republic, pop-up bars from Tomatin Distillery and Cromarty Brewery, and stalls from Muc-Off, FUEL10K, Bikes of Inverness, Dryburgh Cycles, Macmillan Cancer Support and Inverness Science Festival.

Throughout the weekend, temporary traffic restrictions will be in place around Inverness and Loch Ness to ensure the safety of cyclists and other road users.