Thousands descend on Highland cycle event
THOUSANDS of cyclists descended upon the Highlands as Etape Loch Ness returned to the roads around the iconic loch on Sunday April 23.
The sportive sold out 5,200 places in 50 hours, with cycling fans travelling from far and wide for the opportunity to ride through some of the country’s most stunning scenery on traffic-free roads.
The fastest male rider around the 66-mile course was Andy Cunningham of All Terrain Cycling in a time of two hours, 48 minutes and 20 seconds. The fastest female cyclist was Carol Hinchcliffe from Stonehaven CC in two hours, 55 minutes and six seconds.
A red polka dot jersey was also awarded to the fastest male and female participants to reach the top of the Glendoe summit near Fort Augustus. Andy and Carol were also crowned King and Queen of the Mountain for their efforts on the monstrous 4.8-mile climb.
Event director Malcolm Sutherland said: ‘ The fourth Etape Loch Ness has been the biggest yet, bringing thousands of keen cyclists to the Highlands to ride through our glorious countryside.
‘Months of planning and many volunteers go into organising an event on this scale, and to see so many participants – many raising an incredible amount of money for charity – instils a great sense of pride in everyone involved.
‘We would like to offer a huge thank you to all of our partner agencies, communities along the route and the public, without whose support Etape Loch Ness would not happen.’
Many participants have used the opportunity to raise much-needed funds for good causes across the country. Official charity Macmillan Cancer Support has received a welcome boost from charitable riders, who have raised around £200,000.
Local businesses – including hotels, restaurants and shops – have also enjoyed an off-season rise in trade.