The Lapierre Cheshire Cobbled Classic

The Lapierre Cheshire Cobbled Classic

The Lapierre Cheshire Cobbled Classic is an extremely tough 105 km (65-mile) sportive featuring twelve cobbled sectors, including five cobbled climbs that exceed 20% in gradient.

Inspired by the Tour of Flanders

Entries are now open for the 2015 Lapierre Cheshire Cobbled Classic – an extremely tough 105 km (65-mile) sportive which is inspired by the Tour of Flanders – the Belgian one-day Classic. It features twelve cobbled sectors, including five cobbled climbs that exceed 20% in gradient. The most notable of these is the frighteningly steep Corkscrew, a twisting, snaking cobbled road whose 45% maximum gradient makes it the steepest climb in the country (see photo above).

There are also two long flat cobbled sectors (something of a rarity in England), which, even more unusually, are surfaced with round cobbles rather than the more common square cobblestones or ‘setts’.

The eastern half of the Cheshire Cobbled Classic is located within the Peak District National Park and takes in the spectacular Goyt Valley and the Fernilee and Errwood reservoirs. The route contains a significant amount of climbing – roughly 1800m in total – and the event builds to a climax on the iconic Swiss Hill, a 25% cobbled climb in Alderley Edge, which is used by Team Sky to prepare specifically for the Tour of Flanders. The profile of Swiss Hill can be viewed here.

The event will have a Belgian theme, with a variety of Belgian foods, chocolate and a glass of Belgian ‘Leffe’ for every finisher. In addition, everyone who completes the course will be presented with a full-sized commemorative cobblestone, reclaimed from the very same roads that the event passes over! Feed stations, a broom wagon and medical support will be provided. There is also the option of a shorter 65 km (40-mile) route, which skips sectors 5, 6 and 7, but is otherwise the same as the full 105 km route. All of the roads used on the route are relatively traffic-free.

The course designer explains some of the thinking behind the Cheshire Cobbled Classic: “We’d been out to Belgium to do the Tour of Flanders sportive in 2012, and we wanted to try to recreate that sort of course back home in England, with a mixture of short, steep cobbled climbs and flat cobbled sectors. We already knew about Swiss Hill, and had spotted a few cobbled roads in the vicinity.

We quickly found eight or ten other cobbled sectors, and when we discovered to 45% max. ‘Corkscrew’, we knew that we had a really interesting and challenging route on our hands. One great advantage of sportives over races is that you are not as restricted in your choice of roads as you would be in designing a road race course. So you can put together really exciting and novel routes that take in a wide variety of surfaces and terrain that would be logistically very difficult to include in a standard British road race. Ironically, professional road racers now come and ride our events – including Olympic athletes and World Champions.

We also wanted to show that the roads in this part of England are as exciting – and demanding – as any in Europe, and to give people the chance to experience what it is like to ride in some of the famous one-day Classics. Riding fast over cobbles is a sensation that every cyclist should experience at some point; the heightened sensation of speed that the rough, juddering surface produces makes for a thrilling, adrenaline-filled ride”.

The Cheshire Cobbled Classic will be held on Sunday 7 June 2015, starting and finishing at Wilmslow Leisure Centre, Rectory Fields, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 1BU. Entries are priced at £25. You can sign up using British Cycling’s online entry system – click on the red ‘ENTER’ button at the bottom of this page. The event is promoted by Cycle Classics, who organized the recent Tour of the Black Country, a Paris-Roubaix-inspired sportive featuring 15 unpaved/cobbled sectors and a velodrome finish, and the Strade-Bianche-themed White Roads Classic which features 9 white gravel/chalk sectors.