After yet another incredible year for cycling in the UK, the first ever Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Mercia has proved to be a successful addition to the sportive calendar.
The entry level event, which took place yesterday (18 August 2013), took in 69 miles of scenic West Cheshire countryside. Over 1200 cyclists entered in the sportive, which started and finished at Oulton Park Race Track, (also used by the British Superbike Championships) and included some of the county’s best-known sites, such as Beeston Castle, Little Switzerland, Delamere Forest, Shropshire Union Canal and the Cheshire Ridge.
Etape Mercia is a new event for the northwest. The region is seen by many as the home of UK cycling; British Cycling, the national governing body for cycling in the UK, is based in Manchester and as well many decorated Olympians hailing from the area, including event ambassador Dame Sarah Storey. Greater Manchester came top of the list of UK regions to benefit from a Government investment in cycling (£31.1m) just this week.
“We were thrilled with the turnout on the day,” said James Robinson, Managing Director of IMG Challenger World. “The Etape Series has built up a great following in other parts of the UK and we were confident that Cheshire’s stunning countryside and the northwest’s enthusiastic cycling community would make for an equally successful event. We were delighted to bring the Etape Series here and so glad the public got behind all our participants.”
First over the finish line was Simon Froberg from Nottinghamshire: “I took it nice and steady and it was a really enjoyable ride,” he said. “We had lots of people cheering us on as we cycled the route, which was encouraging. The route itself was great – not too brutal but still varied enough to make it a challenge.”
Team Daffodil fundraiser, Paul Gurteen said: “It was thoroughly enjoyable, with great weather. It was a good warm up for the Etape Pennines!”
Etape Mercia is the third event in the fast-growing Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Series – the UK’s leading series of closed road sportives. Other events within the Etape Series include the Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Caledonia in Scotland and the Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Pennines in County Durham.
The Marie Cure Cancer Care Etape Series is run by IMG Challenger World, the mass participation sport division of IMG World, the global sport, fashion and media company. It has set the standard for sportives in the UK, with riders enjoying closed roads, excellent support and awe inspiring routes.
For those who missed out or have a taste for more – the third and final event in the Etape Series, Etape Pennines, is taking place on October 6th and is still open for entries. Those who register their interest in the 2014 Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Mercia get a 48 hour window of opportunity to sign up to the event before tickets go on sale to the general public.
With strong links to charity partners, the Etape Series has also been instrumental in encouraging participants to raise well in excess of £1.5million over its seven year history for its title charity partners.
Marie Curie Cancer Care’s Head of Events, Rachel Athey, said: “Marie Curie is extremely pleased to be working with this premier cycling event. This ride offered cyclists an unrivalled individual challenge but also the opportunity to help others by raising valuable funds to provide more free nursing care and support to terminally ill people and their families.”