The world’s greatest festival of cycling sees 20,000+ riders heading off on new routes
And they’re off: more than 20,000 amateur cyclists have started their RideLondon journeys on brand new routes into Essex, as the event returns after more than 1,000 days away.
It was an early start for those taking on the RideLondon-Essex 100, RideLondon-Essex 60 and RideLondon-Essex 30 mass participation rides, which all began on Victoria Embankment from 06:00.
Riders taking on the 100-mile challenge have started to make their way into Essex via the historic Epping Forest. From there, they’ll cruise past some of the county’s most picturesque towns and villages – where residents are set to line the streets to cheer them on – for around 65 miles, before heading back into central London, where a rapturous applause awaits them at Tower Bridge: a fitting end to an epic day in the saddle.
Riders in the RideLondon-Essex 60 and 30 events will follow the same route out of London but will loop back to the city sooner to create the shorter distances.
The finishers are expected to cross the Finish Line at Tower Bridge from 10:00.
Among them will be some familiar faces – many of whom are riding to raise funds for charity – including former champion jockey Sir Anthony Peter McCoy OBE (otherwise known as AP McCoy), Emmerdale star Tony Audenshaw, singer and actor Lemar and former British Lions Mike Teague and Peter Winterbottom.
They will be joined by more than 500 riders aiming to conquer the London Classics by completing the 100-mile challenge. This select group of athletes have also at some point completed the London Marathon and swum two miles at Swim Serpentine, and will be collecting their London Classics medals – along with their RideLondon medals – at the finish.
But today’s not just about these longer rides – the city is also opening up to cyclists of all ages and abilities with RideLondon FreeCycle. The family-friendly event’s eight-mile traffic-free route opened at 10:00 and is free for anyone to join in, at any time or place they like until 15:00.
Tens of thousands of riders will enjoy a unique opportunity to explore the capital by bike, while soaking up the carnival atmosphere this celebration of cycling offers.
As well as music and entertainment on the route, four free Festival Zones provide a host of activities and demos designed to encourage participation in cycling – a key aim of RideLondon.
And everyone is encouraged to stay in the city once they’ve finished their rides to witness the thrilling finale of the RideLondon Classique – the three-day UCI Women’s WorldTour road race that’s been gripping fans old and new since it started in Essex on Friday.
The final stage starts at 15:45 on Victoria Embankment, and will see current leader Lorena Wiebes fighting to hang onto her jersey over two short (7.3km) and seven long (10.1km) laps of a circuit that covers some of London’s most famous streets – including Piccadilly, Pall Mall and the Strand – before finishing back on the Embankment between 17:35 and 17:50.