I can barely believe that it is just 9 months since the last Tour of Cambridgeshire and we are only 2 months away from the next one.
Malcolm and I think we have created something very special, we are first and foremost both cyclists just like you, we don’t get everything right ( normally when we get persuaded to be too corporate ) but we do learn. We had an amazing response to last year’s event, this year’s event is going to be a big step up and places are selling out fast. I honestly think we will deliver the best mass participation cycling event in the UK this year. Once again we will be the only authentic Gran Fondo in the UK catering for racing, sports, challenge, leisure and charity riders. It really is something for everyone and all on fully professionally delivered closed roads.
So much has happened since last year, which is all positive.
It was interesting for Malcolm and I to look at the many comments both positive and constructive last year and we have taken them all on board, we are spending a lot more money on the things that mattered, we are fellow cyclists and we do not take you for granted.
I thought it would be worth spelling out some of the improvements we have made having learnt from last year’s event:
Medals – ah medals and collection – I will stop apologising for this now but we really got this wrong last year – so we have spent a lot on making this whole process better and I am confident we will not keep you hanging around this year. Please make sure your mobile telephone numbers are correct in your personal data on the registration platform and have your phone handy as you finish. You will collect your finisher medal after you have crossed the line in the Gran Fondo. We will then text you your results and also let you know if you have qualified for a UCI medal which you will be able to collect from the Sue Ryder stand upon presentation of your text message … nice and quick.
Registration – overall this seemed to work pretty well although we have made some tweaks.
Catering – we were both embarrassed last year with the quantity and quality of catering and while for contractual reasons we are in someone else’s hands we have put a lot of pressure on our partners to get this right this year. We have requested three different food courts in different locations around the EXPO.
Road Closures – from what we learnt last year, we are able to be a lot smarter in the use of road closures meaning that we should eliminate the need to close a section of the course if we have an emergency as we did last year. We are significantly increasing the resources dedicated to this including GPS radios which allow the Control Room to understand exactly where all of the road support and emergency vehicles are at any point in time.
Start – A better system at the start will mean less hanging around in the start gates. The start communities will be orchestrated in different areas of the showground –it will take a short while to get everyone out but we should avoid the delays we experienced last year! The start should also feel a little more safe as all entrants have self selected a start community based upon their own aspirations for the event.
EXPO – The expo will be a lot larger than last year, so many manufacturers are getting behind us so it will be more like going to a bike show in terms of scale.
Signage – We have invested heavily in a lot more on signage for the race and around the showground to help you on your journey through our event. We will share more detail of this closer to the event including our manual which will show each and every junction taken in the races along with the signage you can expect to see.
On Road Support – We have learnt the lesson and have designed excellent arrangements for medical provision, support motorcycles and support vehicles to get you back home should you have a problem. If you cannot finish due to fitness or mechanicals we will have buses, people carriers and commercial vans to get you and your bikes repatriated to the HQ.
Course Design – The course continues to be very Belgium in style. We did take note of comments last year about our use of the concrete road in the fens. On balance more people criticised this sector than took joy in its inclusion. We have taken the decision to eliminate this stretch but don’t be fooled by the flat profile. If you are pushing yourself, it will hurt as much as a hilly event. It will be a buzz when you are in a group or have the wind behind you because you will fly ! We’ve tried to book a constant tail wind but the supplier can be fickle.
I am most excited about turning the weekend into a festival.
We have just launched the Tour of Colour for the Friday night; the Chrono will run throughout Saturday, we are aiming to get something really special arranged for Saturday night followed by the main event on Sunday. We also hope to be able to announce a program of Youth and Disability racing on the site over the weekend.
Malcolm and I look forward to welcoming you for an amazing weekend which will be unlike anything else in the UK – enjoy.