Brilliant racing and sportives in Britain and abroad

What a weekend! That’s the cover line and that exclamation mark is well deserved with crowds packing the roadsides for world-class bike races throughout the country and beyond.

The Friends Life Women’s Tour, the opening three stages of the Giro d’Italia, plus the Lincoln Grand Prix, it doesn’t get much busier than that. Well not for at least a couple of months, when we’re all set to go bike crazy again in July for the Grand Départ of the Tour de France.

If this was a rehearsal, it’s set a pretty impressive standard and that’s before you consider the thousands of riders who participated in sportives despite some horrible weather on Sunday.

Top of the bill was the Marie Curie Etape Caledonia with 5,250 tackling a tough 81-mile route in Highland, Perthshire. Now in its seventh year, this closed-roads ride sold out in just eight hours.

Other major mass events included the 2,300 riders who rode the FT London sportive, while in Lincoln, the day before the big race 1,500 riders tackled the 320-metre, 12 per cent cobbled slopes of Michaelgate in the GP’s very own spin-off sportive.

Next Sunday we’re getting in on the action with the latest round of our Assos-sponsored sportive series at Plumpton in East Sussex. Distances are 85, 61 and 33 miles with more details at bookmyride.co.uk.

Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly