NEILL Kemp (37), from Torrance near Glasgow, has set a new course record for the hugely popular Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Caledonia, arguably the UK’s premier closed road cycling sportive, that saw him overtake the efforts of cycling legend and Tour de France TV presenter, Chris Boardman, who lined up alongside 5,250 cyclists for the 81-mile ride.
Neill crossed the finish line in 3h 26 01s knocking a comfortable 1 minute 37 seconds off the top time set by pro rider, Evan Oliphant, in 2011 and a comfortable 23 minutes and 42 seconds off Boardman’s time for the course of 3h 49m 43s.
Neill, whose mother and father were on the finish line to see his triumph, was delighted with his time. He commented:
“Amazed by this, truly chuffed. It was a great ride, really smooth – enjoyed it very much.”
Eight weeks before the 2014 Tour starts in Yorkshire, Boardman, who has two Olympic medals to his name, also tackled the 81-mile closed road cycling event alongside over 5,250 other participants.
The event, which starts and finishes in the Highland Perthshire town of Pitlochry, is widely regarded as one of the most stunning in the UK and gives cyclists a chance to ride in pelotons on safe, closed roads.
The ride gave him a great chance to experience pelotons, descents and hill climbing on the infamous ‘Schiehallion’.
He also had the opportunity to speak to the enthusiastic spectators and participants, who range from novice to club athletes that will no doubt help him when preparing for Tour de France 2014.
Finishing the event in 3h 49m 43s, the five times Tour de France competitor, Chris Boardman, commented: “It was great. The weather really helped – we always prepare for the worst and hope for the best when it comes to the weather in the Northern Hemisphere and this was as good as it gets.
“Great roads, lots of people looking after each other and working together – a much more pleasurable ride than the Tour de France, I’ll definitely be back next year.”
Chris, who admitted yesterday he is also house hunting in the area, continued: “I also spotted a fair few houses for sale along the route and, crucially, one was only about a mile from the local pub. Watch this space!”
The sports presenter was joined by former rugby union player and Scotland International, Rob Wainwright, who rode alongside a team of 24 riders, many of whom were fundraising for Official Charity Partner, Marie Curie Cancer Care.
He said: “I did the event last year and really enjoyed it so I had to come back with the team.
“The scenery in this part of the world is incredible and it’s an amazing ride when you get a little luck with the weather. Lots of the guys are raising money for Marie Curie Cancer Care and it’s great to see so many people contributing to such a great cause.”
The established Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Caledonia, now in its eighth year, was the first closed road cycling event in the UK and has been immensely popular in recent years with general entries selling out in as little as eight hours as over 5,250 riders race to gain their spot on the start line.
James Robinson, managing director at IMG Challenger World, said: “We are absolutely delighted with how well the eighth edition of Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Caledonia went this weekend.
“The event continues to be immensely popular amongst cyclists from all over the world, and you can see why with the stunning scenery on the route and the festival atmosphere at the finish line in Pitlochry.
“It was fantastic to see a cycling legend like Chris Boardman enjoying the unique opportunity to ride on traffic free roads and I’m sure other cyclists relished the opportunity to speak with him during the course of the day.”
Marie Curie Cancer Care is the official charity partner of the Etape Series. Etape Caledonia and Etape Pennines both encourage participants to raise vital funds which enable Marie Curie Nurses to provide free nursing care and support to terminally-ill people and their families in communities across the UK.
Marie Curie Cancer Care director of fundraising, Fabian French, said: “Marie Curie Cancer Care is delighted to be the charity partner for the Etape Series for the third time.
“We are grateful to all the riders who conquered the Etape challenges over the last two years and fundraised for us. So far, they have raised a fantastic £860,000, which has helped Marie Curie provide 43,000 hours of free nursing care.”
Prospective participants for the 2015 Marie Curie Cancer Care Etape Caledonia will be able to register their interest immediately following the 2014 event.
Those who register will get an exclusive 24-hour window to enter the event when places go on sale later this year and, with general entries selling out in just eight hours this year, those 24 hours could make all the difference to those budding cyclists hoping to take on the 81-mile cycling challenge.
Visit www.etapecaledonia.co.uk to register your interest.
To keep up with all the latest news from the Etape Series, visit www.twitter.com/etapeseries and www.facebook.com/etapeseries
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