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Everything You Need to Know About the History of Sportives


A Cycling Sportive isn’t anything new. In fact, it has been around for a while now. Also known as a Cyclosportive/Cyclosportif or Gran Fondo in the US and Australia, this is a type of cycling event with origins that date back more than 40 years, back to the 1970s in Italy.

A cycling sportive is essentially an organised cycling event that can cover any distance. Traditionally, Sportives were held annually, however with the rising popularity of cycling in general, it’s no surprise that these are often held much more frequently and in many locations throughout the UK and the rest of the world.

Cyclo Sportives have always been used to challenge riders both in terms of the distance covered and the time taken, with the extreme end of long-distance sportives falling into the Audax territory. Although there are many Sportives across the globe that offer awards for the top place finishers, such as the L’Etape du Tour, La Marmotte, and the Ardechoise, typically, they are not treated as a race.  Some of these events attract thousands of participants, and they are constantly increasing in popularity.

La Marmotte was the first ever sportive to be held in France, back in 1982. The route started in Bourg d’Oisans and ended with one of toughest Tour De France inclines, namely the Alpe d’Huez. Even today, some 35 years later, it is still one of the most popular (and hardest) European cycling sportives.

The most renowned cyclosportive is the l’Etape du Tour which takes place over the summer and attracts more than 7,500 attendees every year. Entry into the l’Etape du Tour was the target set to the celebrity riders of the “Tour de Celeb” cycling programme produced by Channel 5 in 2016 after they had cut-their-teeth on other cycling events such as the Bostin’ Peaks Sportive set around the Peak District National Park.

However, that isn’t the busiest of the cycling sportives; The Ardéchoise has more than 15,000 participants annually, and the Tour of Flanders attracts a phenomenal number, close to 20,000 riders, each year.

The longest known Cycling Sportive is the Bordeaux-Paris route which covers an impressive 330 miles. It was classified as a professional cycling event until the late 1980s and made its entrance into the world of sportives in 2014.  Other extreme sportives include, at around 210 miles in length, the Tour Du Mont Blanc followed closely behind, at 207 miles, by the Swiss .

What exactly is a Cycling Sportive?

Essentially, it is an organised mass-participation cycling event. It is not a race, although timing chips are often used, and overall results may be published.

You get support, you get directions, and you get to see some amazing sites throughout the Great British Countryside.

If you want to learn more about what is involved in a Cycling Sportive, please take a look at this post which goes into great detail on the subject of what a UK cycling sportive is.

Where is my local Bostin’ Ride Cycling Sportive Being Held?

For a full list of the forthcoming Bostin’ Ride UK cycling sportives, please take a look at the local cycling sportives on our homepage here.

Information about our forthcoming 2019 events will be available here soon, but in the meantime follow us on Facebook and Twitter!