James Stewart

Lizzie Armitstead short-listed for BT Action Woman of the Year award

Road world champion Lizzie Armitstead and mountain biker Rachel Atherton are among 10 nominees for the 2015 BT Action Woman of the Year award

Lizzie Armitstead Short-listed For BT Action Woman Of The Year Award

Lizzie Armitstead wins the 2015 Womens World Road Championships

Pro cyclists Lizzie Armitstead1 and Rachel Atherton have both made the shortlist for the 2015 BT Action Woman of the Year Award. Armistead has enjoyed a stand-out year in women s road cycling, clinching the overall victory in the UCI Women s World Cup and the road race World Championship title.

>>> 100 Best Riders Right Now: #2 Lizzie Armitstead2

Downhill mountain biker Atherton has been no less successful, claiming the World Cup series win and world championship in her discipline. Atherton won the inaugural BT award in 2013.

The cycling duo are among 10 on the shortlist, which also includes heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill, boxer Nicola Adams, the England women s hockey team, parasport athlete Georgina Hermitage, England Lionesses football team, tennis player Johanna Konta, adventurer Sarah Outen and the Oxford women s boat race crew.

>>> Armitstead: I m not the favourite for brutal Rio Olympics road race3

Members of the public can vote online for their favourite nominee4.

The winner will be revealed during a live programme hosted by Clare Balding on Tuesday December 1, aired on the BT Sport 1 channel.

References

  1. ^ Lizzie Armitstead (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  2. ^ >>> 100 Best Riders Right Now: #2 Lizzie Armitstead (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  3. ^ >>> Armitstead: I m not the favourite for brutal Rio Olympics road race (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  4. ^ vote online for their favourite nominee (sport.bt.com)

17 of the best international sportives to ride in 2016

We have a look forward to some of the best international rides to do next year

17 Of The Best International Sportives To Ride In 2016

With the clocks set back and winter beginning to tighten its grip, this time of year is when many of us take a break from cycling and don t give much thought to the year ahead. However, it won t be long until we tire of sitting at home with our feet up and are itching to get out on the bike once again. As soon as the riding starts, thoughts may turn to what exactly we re doing all this winter mileage for.

>>> Winter cycling survival guide: 10 tips to keep you riding1

Sportives are now particularly popular events in the UK and the amateur race scene has probably never been so well populated. But for an increasing number of riders the appeal of riding their own Spring Classic or getting some sun on an exotic sportive is just too much to resist.

Here we run through our top picks of the best international sportives from a huge range of possibilities.

Cape Town Cycle Tour

17 Of The Best International Sportives To Ride In 2016

Photo: Flickr/South African Tourism

When: March
Where: South Africa
More information: capetowncycletour.com2

The Cape Town Cycle Tour gives 35,000 riders the chance to cover 109km through some of SA s best scenery. The event is also charitably run, benefitting Pedal Power Association (PPA) and Rotary Club of Claremont.

Ronde van Vlaaderen Cyclo (Tour of Flanders sportive)

17 Of The Best International Sportives To Ride In 2016

Niki Terpstra and Alexander Kristoff in the 2015 Tour of Flanders. Photo: Graham Watson

When: April
Where: Flanders, Belgium
More information: sport.be/rondevanvlaanderen3

The Tour of Flanders4 event runs the day before the professional Monument race and forms part of a three ride series with Paris-Roubiax and Li ge-Bastogne-Li ge. The 2016 race will be the 100th edition and so the sportive is likely to be a sell out.

There is a choice of three routes: the full 239km parcours starting in Bruges, or the shorter loop options of 127km and 71km that both start and finish in Oudenaarde.

>>> The defining cobbles, bergs and climbs of the Belgian Classics5

Participants can make a weekend of it by visiting the Tour of Flanders museum6 and by sticking around to watch the pros do battle on the cobbles and bergs of the Flemish region.

Paris-Roubaix Challenge

17 Of The Best International Sportives To Ride In 2016

The professional peloton on the cobbles of Arenberg at Paris-Roubaix. Photo: Graham Watson

When: April
Where: Northern France
More information: sport.be/parisroubaix7

Similar to RVV this mass participation event takes place the day before the pro race, on the same course as the professional teams. Again there is a choice of three routes, and all end in the iconic Roubaix Velodrome, arguably the best finish to any sportive on this list.

>>> Blog: Why would anyone ride Paris-Roubaix?8

The longest route is 170km and covers every secteur pav on the way to the finish. The shorter routes of 70km and 140km start and finish in Roubaix, from where they loop out and take in the best known secteurs.

Li ge-Bastogne-Li ge Challenge

17 Of The Best International Sportives To Ride In 2016

The scenery of Li ge-Bastogne-Li ge. Photo: Graham Watson

When: April
Where: Wallonia, Belgium
More information: sport.be/lblcyclo9

The third and final event offered by the Skoda Classic Challenge series is also the longest. At 273km the epic route of the LBL sportive gives riders the chance to cover nine significant climbs on their way from Li ge to Bastogne and back again.

>>> The climbs of Li ge-Bastogne-Li ge10

The shorter routes still start and finish in Li ge, they just don t quite make it to Bastogne.

Amstel Gold Race Tour

17 Of The Best International Sportives To Ride In 2016

Classic Dutch backdrop to the Amstel Gold Race. Photo: Graham Watson

When: April
Where: Maastricht, the Netherlands
More information: amstel.nl/amstelgoldrace/agr-toer11

The Amstel Gold Race sportive offers a massive six different distance options: 60, 100, 125, 150, 200 and 240km.

As with the professional race, the sportive ends with an ascent of the Cauberg.


Get your preparation right to ensure a successful day s riding


Mallorca312 / Mallorca167

17 Of The Best International Sportives To Ride In 2016

When: April
Where: Mallorca, Spain
More information: mallorca312.com12

For this sportive, the name tells the distance: either 312km or 167km. The longer of the two does a full lap of the Balearic island, whilst the shorter route covers a loop in the north. The 312km option is front loaded with climbs and riders will need to be well trained before taking on this challenge if they are to get comfortably inside the 14 hour time limit.

Paris-Roubaix Cyclo-Sportive

17 Of The Best International Sportives To Ride In 2016

The cobbles of Paris-Roubaix. Photo: Jack Elton-Walters

When: June
Where: Northern France
More information: vc-roubaix-cyclo.fr13

Run by the Velo Club de Roubaix, this event is held every second year and covers the full 260km route that the pros will have conquered earlier in the season.

>>> Sean Kelly on riding the cobbles: You have to be crazy to win here (video)14

Every finisher gets their own mini-cobble-on-plinth trophy.

Quebrantahuesos

17 Of The Best International Sportives To Ride In 2016

Spanish scenery during the Vuelta a Espa a. Photo: Graham Watson

When: June
Where: Sabi nigo, Spain
More information: quebrantahuesos.com15

This Spanish sportive gives riders the choice between two very different distances. The full Quebrantahuesos Gran Fondo follows a 200km route, whilst the Treparriscos Medio Fondo is less than half the distance at 85km. Entries are done by a lottery ballot due to demand outstripping supply, so if this event is of interest then it s best to enter early and cross your fingers. The route crosses the Pyrenees into France before looping back in Spain to finish where it started.

L Ariegeoise cyclosportive

17 Of The Best International Sportives To Ride In 2016

The Tour de France peloton in the Pyrenees. Photo: Graham Watson

When: June
Where: The French Pyrenees
More information: cyclosport-ariegeoise.com16

Another Pyrenean adventure, this one stays firmly on French soil. Another two route sportive, covering either 115km or 168.5km. Over 1000 riders took part in the long route this year and more are expected as the event continues to grow.

tape du Tour

17 Of The Best International Sportives To Ride In 2016

Alpine roads of the tape du Tour. Photo: Antton Miettinen

When: July
Where: Meg ve to Morzine, French Alps
More information: letapedutour.com17

Arguably the biggest and best known sportive in the world, thanks to its association with the Tour de France18, the route for the 2016 tape du Tour has already been released.

The parcours follows the same route as stage 20 of the Grande Boucle19, a day that could decide who wears yellow into Paris on the following day.

Maratona dles Dolomites

17 Of The Best International Sportives To Ride In 2016

The Giro d Italia riding through the Dolomites. Photo: Graham Watson

When: July
Where: Northern Italy
More information: maratona.it20

Three route options of 138, 106 and 55km for this hilly ride through the mountains of Northern Italy, not too far from the Austrian border. All three courses are almost entirely up or down with little in the way of flat road.

La Marmotte

17 Of The Best International Sportives To Ride In 2016

The Tour de France at Alpe d Huez during the Tour de France. Photo: Graham Watson

When: July
Where: French Alps

Unlike the tape, the Marmotte s route does not change from year to year. The route covers over 170km from Bourg d Oisans to Alpe d Huez and the amount of climbing puts amateurs through their paces on a Tour de France style high mountain day.

>>> Seven key climbs of the 2016 Tour de France21

The sportive is usually a sell out despite there being 7000 places available.

Granfondo Gottardo

17 Of The Best International Sportives To Ride In 2016

The cobbled climb of the Gotthard

When: July
Where: Ambri, Switzerland
More information: granfondosangottardo.com22

The Granfondo San Gottardo is set in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland and takes you over three classic cols: the Saint Gotthard, Furka and Nufenen. The relatively easy five per cent average gradient of the Saint Gotthard is made more challenging by the uneven, cobbled surface adding character to the ascent, setting it apart from the usual upwards grind.

Haute Route Alps

17 Of The Best International Sportives To Ride In 2016

The Galibier often features on the Haute Route Alps. Photo: Daniel Gould

When: August-September
Where: Nice, France to Geneva, Switzerland
More information: hauteroute.org/alps23

One of three Haute events, along with the Pyrenees and Dolomites, this multi-day ride is at the tougher end of the international sportive scale.

Seven consecutive stages take riders over 800km through the Alps to a finish in Geneva s Jardins Anglais.

L Eroica

17 Of The Best International Sportives To Ride In 2016

The white roads of Tuscany. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

When: October
Where: Gaiole, Italy
More information: eroicagaiole.com24

Taking in the white roads of Tuscany, this sportive runs a ballot system due to its growing popularity. Bikes must have been built no more recently than 1987 and riders are expected to dress in period cycling clothing riders can be disqualified for inappropriate clothing. The only exception to the rules is the choice (but not obligation) to wear a modern helmet.

The event has also spawned two spin-offs: Eroica Britannia25 and Eroica Japan.


Get your event nutrition right


For something a bit more challenging

Race Across America

17 Of The Best International Sportives To Ride In 2016

Image: Mark Pattinson/Strava

When: June
Where: West to East across the USA
More information: raceacrossamerica.org26

This 3000 mile epic ride from the West coast of the USA to the East has been running since 1982. The RAAM is run as a continuous time trial: the clock starts when the riders roll out and stops when they cross the finish line. The time includes all stoppages for sleep, food and mechanicals.

Perhaps one for a bucket list rather than a mid-season target, to complete this event would be quite an achievement.

Trans Continental

17 Of The Best International Sportives To Ride In 2016

Image: Alain Rumpf/Strava

When: July
Where: Flanders, Belgium to Istanbul, Turkey
More information: transcontinental.cc27

As with the RAAM, the clock doesn t stop until the rider crosses the finish line, and some challengers are reported to do the whole thing on very little sleep. This race has no set route, just compulsory checkpoints along the way. Months of careful planning go into each rider s chosen route to ensure they get to each marker as efficiently as possible.

The race has just 10 simple rules, including riders must ride from the start point to the finish point and visit all mandatory controls en-route and riders must act in the spirit of self sufficiency and equal opportunity for all racers .

References

  1. ^ >>> Winter cycling survival guide: 10 tips to keep you riding (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  2. ^ capetowncycletour.com (www.capetowncycletour.com)
  3. ^ sport.be/rondevanvlaanderen (www.sport.be)
  4. ^ Tour of Flanders (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  5. ^ >>> The defining cobbles, bergs and climbs of the Belgian Classics (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  6. ^ visiting the Tour of Flanders museum (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  7. ^ sport.be/parisroubaix (www.sport.be)
  8. ^ >>> Blog: Why would anyone ride Paris-Roubaix? (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  9. ^ sport.be/lblcyclo (www.sport.be)
  10. ^ >>> The climbs of Li ge-Bastogne-Li ge (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  11. ^ amstel.nl/amstelgoldrace/agr-toer (www.amstel.nl)
  12. ^ mallorca312.com (www.mallorca312.com)
  13. ^ vc-roubaix-cyclo.fr (www.vc-roubaix-cyclo.fr)
  14. ^ >>> Sean Kelly on riding the cobbles: You have to be crazy to win here (video) (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  15. ^ quebrantahuesos.com (www.quebrantahuesos.com)
  16. ^ cyclosport-ariegeoise.com (www.cyclosport-ariegeoise.com)
  17. ^ letapedutour.com (www.letapedutour.com)
  18. ^ Tour de France (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  19. ^ same route as stage 20 of the Grande Boucle (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  20. ^ maratona.it (www.maratona.it)
  21. ^ >>> Seven key climbs of the 2016 Tour de France (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  22. ^ granfondosangottardo.com (www.granfondosangottardo.com)
  23. ^ hauteroute.org/alps (www.hauteroute.org)
  24. ^ eroicagaiole.com (www.eroicagaiole.com)
  25. ^ Eroica Britannia (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  26. ^ raceacrossamerica.org (www.raceacrossamerica.org)
  27. ^ transcontinental.cc (reportage.transcontinental.cc)