BUZZING from the success of today’s event in Pitlochry, IMG Challenger World, organisers of the Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Caledonia, have announced that they have opened up pre-registration for the 2014 event which will take place on Sunday 11th May.
Applicants will get an exclusive 24-hour window to enter the event when places go on sale later this year and, with all 5,000 places selling out in just 72 hours last year, those 24 hours could make all the difference to those budding cyclists hoping to take on the 81-mile cycling challenge.
Marie Curie Cancer Care is the official Charity Partner of the Etape Series and all money raised by cyclists will enable Marie Curie nurses to provide free end of life care and support to terminally ill people and their families in their own homes or in dedicated Marie Curie hospices.
Earlier today thousands of cyclists gathered on the start line alongside household names and adventurers who heard a rousing Scottish welcome from Member of Parliament for Perth & North Perthshire, Pete Wishart before setting off on their Highland Perthshire adventure at 6.30am this morning.
The fastest time around the course was claimed by Tom Arnstein (18), a business studies undergraduate at Strathclyde University in Glasgow – originally from Burnt Island in Fife, with a strong time of 3 hours 28 minutes 32 seconds. His time was just 54 seconds behind course record set by Team Endura rider, Evan Oliphant, in 2011 of 3 hours 27 minutes and 32 seconds.
Fastest female was taken by Ashley Pearson (39) from Aberdeenshire who was riding with a team from Deeside Thistle, with a course record time (female) of 3 hours 45 minutes and 41 seconds, shaving seven minutes off the existing record held by Mona Petrie.
First over the finish line, and coming tenth overall, was Francois Xavier-Blanc, director of marketing for Mavic, a leading manufacturer of bike systems and rider’s equipment who also provide technical roadside support for the event. Despite a comfortable sprint to the finish, his time of 3 hours, 32 minutes and 14 seconds was enough to place him in the top ten, but not fast enough to place him in the medal categories.
James Robinson, IMG Challenger World, said: “We are absolutely delighted with how well the event went this weekend. Once again, there was a real festival atmosphere at the finish line in Pitlochry and it was fantastic to see so many cyclists crossing it with proud smiles. Feedback has been extremely positive with everyone commenting on the stunning scenery on the route and the unique opportunity to enjoy these vistas on safe and traffic free roads.
“We’d also like to thank Marie Curie Cancer Care, Perth & Kinross Council, and the many sponsors involved in the event who contribute to ensuring it is a fantastic experience for cyclists.”
He added: “We are already in planning for next year’s event and are excited about the future of the Etape Series of cycling events which include the Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Pennines and Etape Mercia events, both of which take place later this year. Etape Caledonia is now firmly established as one the UK’s biggest closed road sportive and we expect sign up for 2014 to be very strong indeed.”
Official charity partner of the Etape Series, Marie Curie Cancer Care, had over 1,100 cyclists raising funds at Sunday’s event.
Isobel Paul, Marie Curie Cancer Care’s Scottish Events Manager, said: “We have loved being a part of this amazing event and seeing all the cyclists cross the finish line. We’re especially proud of all the cyclists who have completed today’s challenge to raise money for us.
“Even though the race is now over, there’s still plenty of time for cyclists to fundraise for Marie Curie Cancer Care. All the money raised will help Marie Curie Nurses continue providing free end of life care to those with terminal cancer and other life limiting illnesses in their own homes or at one of the charity’s nine hospices, two of which are in Glasgow and Edinburgh.”
Meanwhile, for those participants who have firmly caught the cycling bug, there are still some general entry places left for the Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Pennines and Etape Mercia. Entries and expressions of interest can be made for all Etape Series events online at www.etapecaledonia.co.uk