Rob Hayles samples Etape Pennines sportive route

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Event: 7 October 2012
Location: County Durham
Report: Cyclevox

On 24th April, 2012, event organisers IMG Challenger World and charity partner Marie Curie Cancer Care hosted a press day with Etape Pennines event ambassador Rob Hayles.

Rob was joined by sponsors, members of the media and other invited guests, who all enjoyed riding some of the most challenging and picturesque parts of the Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Pennines course. The event took place in view of the event itself which will take place on 7th October this year.

The Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Pennines is a 78 mile, closed-road sportive event which will take cyclists through some of the most scenic countryside the UK has to offer. The ride commences in the historic city of Durham and heads out to the hills of ‘England’s backbone’, the Pennines. Rob led the group over the highest paved road in Britain - Harthope Moss, which riders will tackle on the day, as well as up some challenging climbs and strikingly scenic descents.

Talking about the ride Rob claimed, “In the professional peloton we would describe this route as ‘grippy’. I enjoyed testing out the journey that riders will eventually join me on in October. The countryside of the North Eastern Pennines, through which the route took us, provides some dramatic spectacles for riders. Hopefully, after a successful Olympics for Great Britain, more individuals will be inspired to participate in this event and raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care; a cause I both believe in and have found close to my heart”.

As market leaders in closed road events, IMG Challenger World have successfully run the Etape Caledonia in Scotland for five years. Now they are furthering their focus on cycling events with the Etape Series UK. The Etape Pennines is a unique event as the first ever closed-road sportive to be held in England.

Speaking at the post-ride press conference James Robinson MD stated, “According to British Cycling, 1.85 million adults in the UK are cycling regularly, and is one of the fastest growing mass-participation sports. The Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Caledonia sold out in 9 days, so clearly this is something which people enjoy getting involved in. This event would not be possible without our sponsors, and the county of Durham, who embraced our vision. We look forward to working with the local authorities who are clearly very passionate about bringing mass-participation events to the North East. In addition to the Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Pennines we are looking to extend the Etape Series and are excited to announce two further venues shortly.”.

Nigel Dodds from Durham City Council also added, “I am pleased that the group was able to see a sample of our beautiful county today. We are committed to providing mass-participation events that will put Durham County ‘on the map’. We are currently working on a new strategy to establish Durham County as a cycling destination, and we see the Etape Pennines as a key way to draw in new visitors who will holiday and cycle in the county. IMG Challenger World have impressed us with what they achieve year-on-year with Etape Caledonia, and it is vital that we work with a partner whom we have great confidence in to drive the event forward. I hope that this event becomes the ‘big brother’ to Etape Caledonia.”

The event is selling quickly and is expected to see a surge in interest around the Etape Caledonia which is due to take place in just over three weeks time (13th May). Entrants are encouraged to support Marie Curie Cancer Care and Lisa Corfield, Community Fundraiser for Marie Curie Cancer Care, said a few words about the cause and how money raised by events such as this support both the terminally ill and their families: “Marie Curie Cancer Care provides free nursing care to people with terminal cancer and other terminal illnesses in their own homes and in our nine hospices. This helps to give patients and their families peace of mind at a very difficult time. At Marie Curie Cancer Care we put patients and their families first to ensure they receive the right care in the right place. We know most people would chose to die at home or in a hospice and Marie Curie Nurses enable people to do this but we need the support from riders taking part to continue to provide this care and we hope riders will fundraise for the charity.

To secure a place in England’s debut closed-road sportive, or for more information, visit the Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Pennies website at