Saturday, June 22, 2024

These are 9 of the best cycling sportives that you can ride in Europe

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Going out every day on the bike for a ride is great, but where do you actually test the fitness and leg work you’ve built up month after month? It’s always good to have target while you train and competing in a cycling sportive is the perfect non-competitive way of putting that energy to use. You’ll have to pay to enter of course, but with this you’ll get an organised event and get to discover new roads and places. Here’s our selection of very best sportives you can do in Europe.

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1. Tour de Yorkshire Ride (England)

Ready for some Yorkshire grit

© Olaf Pignataro/Red Bull Content Pool

The Tour de Yorkshire Ride sportive is now in its fourth year following the setting-up of the UCI professional race in the English county in 2015. The Tour de Yorkshire Ride constantly changes the course profile of the sportive every year to mirror a stage that the pros take part in during the three days of their race. If you’re expecting flat roads then you’ll be surprised, as there are a few climbs along the way. The long route is 123km, while there’s also a medium route of 78km and a short route of 50km.

312km. One day. Ouch

© Mallorca 312-Giant-Taiwan

Mallorca is a popular winter destination for cyclists hoping to escape the wintry weather further north, so it’s no surprise that the Spanish island has its own day-long sportive. The main event is 312km with over 5,000m of climbing. There are also shorter 225km and 167km courses on offer for those that don’t want to do the punishing main event!

3. Stelvio Santini (Italy)

Cyclists battle up the Stelvio Pass

© Oliver Wieser

The Stelvio features two of Italy’s most unforgiving climbs in the Mortirolo and the Stelvio passes. The latter road pass has 48 bends that will literally send you around the bend as you navigate each hairpin. There are three routes on offer. The 60km short route and the 138km medium route see you tackle only the Stelvio, but you can go large to the main 151km-long route that includes the Mortirolo.

4. Vätternrundan (Sweden)

Chances are you’ve never heard of the Vätternrundan. This ride is very well known in Scandinavia, but its reputation is now beginning to attract participants from around the world. The idea is simple, you cycle pleasantly around the shoreline of Lake Vättern. Except Lake Vättern is very large. So large that this ride totals 300km before it finishes in the Swedish town of Motala. There are also shorter distances you can do around the lake, and there’s even an MTB edition.

5. Gran Fondo Quebrantahuesos (Spain)

For cyclists who aren’t averse to the sun or the heat, the Quebrantahuesos or as it more colloquially known, The Bone Breaker, may be the event for you. Spain’s most popular sportive is set high in the Pyrenees where the weather is set fair in the summer. There’s a veritable feast of landscape to enjoy as you ride the 200km route. Entry is limited to a certain number of cyclists, so you have to be quick to register. Like most sportives, there’s a shorter route of 85km available to ride.

6. Maratona dles Dolomites (Italy)

In terms of distance (138km) this may not be the most exciting sportive to do, but what it lacks in kilometres it makes up in the altitude you’ll be feeling during the ride. The course takes you up to a height of 4,200m. That’s to be expected when you see the mountain passes that you take in on the route. The Passo Campolongo, Passo Pordoi, Passo Sella, Passo Gardena, Passo Giau, Passo Valparola and Mür Dl Giat are all there! Best make sure your Strava is recording this epic!

7. Marmotte Alps (France)

The Col du Galibier


If you’ve dreamed of tackling some of the legendary mountain passes seen in the Tour de France then the Marmotte Alps sportive might be the ride for you. The 174km day-long sportive takes in the legendary climbs of Glandon, Télégraphe, Galibier and Alpe d’Huez with the finish at the summit of the latter. With 5,000m of climbing, the legs will surely hurt at the end of a long day, but the achievement will live long in the memory.

8. Tour de Mont Blanc Cyclo

Western Europe’s highest mountain peak – Mont Blanc – is the focus of this sportive with the route looping around the roads of this alpine monster. Featuring over 8,000m of climbing, this sportive is quite the beast and is billed by organisers as the toughest one-day bike race in the world. It’s also quite special for the fact you get to cycle in three countries in one day as the route passes into France, Italy and Switzerland at various points. Your reward as you cycle around Mont Blanc is of course some of the most amazing landscape views the European Alps have to offer.

9. Oeztaler Radmarathon (Austria)

Sölden scenery

© Jürgen Skarwan

This Alpine challenge is sometimes overlooked, but its place in the calendar during the latter part of the summer makes it a popular choice. With over 5,000m of climbing over 238km this sportive takes in the stunning scenery of Austria’s Tyrolean region. There are four challenging passes – Kühtai, Brenner, Jaufenpass and the 28.7km-long ascent to Timmelsjoch – to negotiate on the way to the finish line in Sölden. Finishing this sportive will give you major bragging rights for sure!

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