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Back to sportives: What to expect, tips, etiquette and advice

Back to sportives: What to expect, tips, etiquette and advice

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Knowledge Level: Beginner

With the great news that sportives and other non-competitive events can resume in England from Saturday 5 September, here’s what you can expect and some tips to ensure your ride and the event goes smoothly.


Do your bit for your sport..

…by reading this article, following these, listening to the instructions from the event organisers and by being considerate of other riders, event staff and volunteers, local residents and other road and trail users. It’s only if we all do this that events will go ahead and continue to do so.

Allow extra time

With social distancing measures, waved starts and possibly parking restrictions - allow yourself a bit more time than your normally would to get to the event, parked, set-up and ready to ride. You should be looking to minimise unnecessary interaction and contact with event volunteers and other participants. Things are bound to be different to sportives that you’ve ridden before so just be patient and understanding. Even more so than normal, being present for and listening to any pre-ride briefings from the event organisers is essential.


Observe good hygiene practice. Use any hand sanitiser provided, wash your hands frequently and maybe pop a small bottle of sanitiser in your jersey pocket. Take a mask too - you might not need it but, if you do have to go indoors at the event start/finish, you and event volunteers might feel more comfortable if you’re wearing one. Avoid touching other riders’ bikes or kit and try to be as self-sufficient as possible to minimise contact.

Groups of six

As with all riding at the moment, you’re restricted to riding in groups of six. These groups will be determined at the start of the ride and should not join, mingle or interchange with other groups on the road. Even if you’ve got a group of mates up the road don’t be tempted to join them or form groups larger than six.

45-second waves

The groups of six will be set off at 45-second intervals. Make sure you know your time slot but don’t head to the start area too early as it’ll be restricted to ensure that a maximum of 24 riders (four groups) are in the area at one time. While waiting to head off you should maintain 1m+ social distancing.

As ever, while you’re waiting to ride off, be considerate of local residents and, although you’re bound to be excited about riding an event again, keep the volume of chatter down.


If you find your group is catching one ahead, only overtake when you can do so safely and while maintaining 1m+ distancing from other riders. Communicate with the riders in your group so that everyone is aware you’re passing another group and give the riders in the group you’re passing a shout that you’re coming by. Remember a sportive isn’t a race and, especially in these challenging times, you should rein in those competitive instincts.

Feed stations

Feed stations will only be available if there’s infrastructure that is large enough to accommodate social distancing and self-service. Read your pre-event instructions thoroughly and check what the feed station provisions at your event will be.

Unfortunately the usual platters of cakes and sandwiches we’re used to won’t be on offer as all items have to be sealed and, with regards to hygiene, be really mindful of the riders behind you.

Expect feed stations to maybe not be as slick as you’re used to, be patient and maintain social distancing - remember, it’s not a race and a few extra minutes don’t matter.

Stick with your group and make sure that all riders in your’s have what they need and are ready to go when you roll-off. Be sensible and allow gaps between groups.

Our advice, even if there are feed stations, is to try and be as self-sufficient as possible. You should be able to carry sufficient fuel for most sportives using your jersey pockets and maybe a top-tube bag. Bag-up some bottle sized portions of energy drink, start with X2 750ml bottles and you should only need to stop for a quick bottle refill or two.


Even if you have ridden an event before, don’t expect the route to be the same. To comply with guidelines event organisers might have been forced to tweak it, shorten it or, to alleviate start/finish congestion change it to a point to point route. Read pre-event information thoroughly, listen carefully to pre-ride briefings, don’t rely on old .gpx files and carefully follow way-marking and instructions from event volunteers.

The finish

As with the start and feed stations, measures will be in place to minimise contact and facilitate social distancing. Any goody bags and post-ride refreshments will be distributed using self-service and you should follow the instructions from event volunteers. Although we all like to have a chat post-ride, don’t hang around the finish area as it’ll just lead to congestion and problems for riders behind you.