The Lapierre Tour of the Black Country is a 100km sportive which takes in 20 km of cobbled roads, stony farm tracks and bridleways in the West Midlands and Worcestershire, with a Roubaix-style velodrome finish.
Modelled on the epic European Classic ‘Paris-Roubaix’
The Lapierre Tour of the Black Country includes 15 unpaved sectors varying in length from 300m to 1800m, all of which are passable on a standard road bike. Each sector is rated according to difficulty; one star being the most straightforward, five stars being the most difficult. The roads are virtually traffic-free, despite being located close to Birmingham, and the majority of the unpaved sectors are closed to all traffic. The route finishes, as does Paris-Roubaix, on a large outdoor velodrome, at Aldersley Stadium on the outskirts of Wolverhampton.
The event will have a French theme, with a variety of French foods (croissants, pains aux raisins, crepes, etc.), coffee and a glass of Champagne for every finisher. In addition, everyone who completes the course will be presented with a lump of top-quality Black Country coal, mined from under the very same roads that the route follows. 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 five of the fifteen unpaved sectors, but is otherwise the same as the full 100 km route.
The event is being supported by British Cycling; read the article on their website describing how the sportive came into being, and the ideas and values behind it.