The Oxfordshire White Roads Classic is a tough 115-kilometre (72-mile) sportive, modelled on the Strade Bianche - the iconic Italian one-day classic.
It features 20km of white gravel and chalk roads (nine sectors ranging from 1300m to 3300m in length) on and around the Ridgeway National Trail in the spectacular downland of the North Wessex Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The white gravel sectors are either flat or slightly downhill and provide an exhilarating riding experience, requiring both power and control.
While not as difficult as the roads of Paris-Roubaix or the Tour of Flanders, the rough gravel roads produce the same heightened sensations of speed that you get from riding over cobbles. There is also a fair amount of climbing (1200m) as the route goes up and down the Ridgeway, in order to pick out the best bits of white road.
The Ridgeway is open and exposed in parts and can be quite hot in summer, and the white roads can be dry and dusty. The route starts and finishes in Goring-on-Thames, on a spectacular stretch of the Thames, and the climax of the event is the long section of white road which descends from the top of The Ridgeway back down to the Thames.
In addition to the unique sensations the white roads produce, they also offer a connection to the past, and an insight into what cycling would have been like in the years before the widespread use of tarmac. The Ridgeway is the oldest roads in Britain, dating back at least 5000 years, and in many ways the landscape has remained almost unchanged since that time.
The White Roads Classic will be held on Sunday 17 August. Entries are priced at £25 and are open until Saturday 16 August. The event is promoted by V-Sprint Classics, who organised the recent Tour of the Black Country, a Roubaix-style sportive with 12 cobbled sectors and a velodrome finish, and the forthcoming Flanders-inspired Cheshire Cobbled Classic, which features the 45% cobbled Corkscrew.
Fancy taking on the white roads challenge? Enter here today.