We have a look forward to some of the best British sportives to ride in the coming year

With the dark days of winter fading away as we head into spring, it’s good to have a few targets to continue working towards to make all the slogging away in the cold months worthwhile.

For those who won’t be putting that training into racing, non-competitive days out on the bike following a pre-set route can be a great way to see new places.

>>> Eight ways to improve your cycling for the spring

Here we look at some of the best sportives from all corners of the UK, ordered chronologically.

This is far from an exhaustive list, so you can let us know any of your favourites that we may have missed in the comments below.

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The best British sportives

Isle of Wight Randonnee

The signs can be followed all year round. Photo: Jack Elton-Walters

The signs can be followed all year round. Photo: Jack Elton-Walters

When: May 1
Where: Isle of Wight
More information: cycleisland.co.uk

Ride on the roads that the Lonely Planet rightly called the best place in the world to cycle. This route can be followed all year round thanks to the blue and white signs at key junctions, but the event itself provides checkpoints, feed stations and plenty of other riders.

The route changes direction every year, and 2016 will see riders heading in a clockwise direction around the Isle of Wight.

A choice of two routes – 55km and the full 100km – should appeal to a wide range of riders.

Tour de Yorkshire Ride

Tour de France Stage 1 : Leeds - Harrogate Peloton Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA

Ride on the same roads as the pros. Photo : Yuzuru Sunada

When: May 1
Where: Yorkshire
More information: humanrace.co.uk/tour-de-yorkshire-ride

Forming part of the Tour de Yorkshire race weekend, the amateur event takes place on the morning of stage three.

Riders are treated to the same final kilometre and finish line as the pros, and can then stick around to see the WorldTour and domestic riders fight out for the stage – and maybe overall – win.

Fred Whitton Challenge

Not everyone makes it up the likes of Honister and Hardknott on two wheels. Photo: Steve Fleming

Not everyone makes it up the likes of Honister and Hardknott on two wheels. Photo: Steve Fleming

When: May 8
Where: Grasmere, Cumbria
More information: fredwhittonchallenge.co.uk

Seen by many as the country’s toughest sportive, the sheer number of steep climbs will have even the hardiest rider reaching for a 32t sprocket.

The sportive is run in honour of Fred Whitton, who died aged just 50 in 1998, and was a member of the Lakes Road Club. The 2015 event raised over £1 million for local charities.

Etape Caledonia

Riders will pedal past Loch Rannoch. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Riders will pedal past Loch Rannoch. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

When: May 8
Where: Pitlochry, Perth and Kinross
More information: etapecaledonia.co.uk

A closed road route of 130km takes riders around Loch Rannoch and through the Tay Forest Park. Several feedstations throughout will keep riders going before they are welcomed back into Pitlochry.

Lincoln Grand Prix Sportive

The cobbled climb of Michaelgate. Photo: Andy Jones

The cobbled climb of Michaelgate. Photo: Andy Jones

When: May 14
Where: Lincoln and the Lincolnshire lanes
More information: itpevents.co.uk/lincoln-grand-prix-sportive

A rolling route around the Lincolnshire countryside carries a sharp sting in its tail in the form of Michaelgate.

The cobbled climb, which tops out over 20%, will catch anyone out who hasn’t kept enough in the tank over the rest of the ride.

Isle of Man Cyclefest Gran Fondo

Isle of Man (Photo: Jon Wornham/CC)

Isle of Man. Photo: Jon Wornham/CC

When: May 15
Where: Isle of Man
More information: iomcyclefest.com/gran-fondo

This Gran Fondo features closed-roads, and will also feature unsurfaced forest roads and a processional ride out under blue lights. The long course is 128km and there is a family friendly 35km option too.

This event forms part of the Isle of Man Cyclefest which sees the Tour Series visit for the first time.

Etape du Dales

A challenging ride in stunning scenery. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A challenging ride in stunning scenery. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

When: May 15
Where: Wharfedale, near Grassington, North Yorkshire
More information: daveraynerfund.co.uk/etapedudales

The event pre-dates the Tour de France‘s visit to the county, but includes some of the same roads giving riders a chance to experience Grand Tour parcours.

Organisers warn that the 177km should not be approached lightly and riders need a high level of fitness to complete the challenge.

Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia Northern Ireland

Spectators watch Garmin on stage one of the 2014 Giro d'Italia

Be part of the legacy of the 2014 Giro d’Italia. Photo: Graham Watson

When: June 5
Where: Belfast, Northern Ireland
More information: granfondogiroditaliani.com

Continuing the legacy of the Giro d’Italia‘s visit to NI in 2014, the sportive lets riders experience the best of the area on closed roads.

Another sportive with a choice of two routes; but with a large difference between them – 173km and 58km.

Isle of Mull Sportive

A coastal scene on the Isle of Mull. Photo: Phillip Capper/Flickr

A coastal scene on the Isle of Mull. Photo: Phillip Capper/Flickr

When: June 5
Where: Isle of Mull
More information: mullcyclosportive.co.uk

This event is staffed by local volunteers who help with the marshalling and the feed stations.

A choice of two route on the quiet island roads, riders will be treated with a warm meal when they complete their chosen distance.


Box Hill Original 12

Box Hill is the highlight of RideLondon. Photo: Roo Fowler

When: July 31
Where: London and Surrey
More information: prudentialridelondon.co.uk

This mass participation event sees over 20,000 amateur riders set out from the Olympic Park for a 100 mile ride through London and the Surrey Hills, all on closed roads.

Places are picked on a ballot system as demand far outstrips supply. For those lucky enough to get a place they can ride in the tyres tracks of the London 2012 Olympians.

Sodbury Sportive


Ride through glorious Cotswolds lanes. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

When: August 21
Where: Chipping Sodbury, South Gloucestershire
More information: sodburysportive.co.uk 

The Saddleback Sodbury Sportive starts and finishes in Chipping Sodbury, near Yate. A friendly and welcoming event run by the local Rotary Club and staffed entirely by volunteers, this is a fantastic event in a stunning part of the world.

The route is made all the better by marked Strava segments which add a hint of competitiveness to the ride. Homemade sandwiches at the feed stations and a hot meal for every rider at the finish, an all round great sportive.

Cornwall Coast and Clay

Stunning Cornwall scenery awaits riders. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Stunning Cornwall scenery awaits riders. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

When: September
Where: St Columb Major, near Newquay
More information: cornwallcoastandclay.co.uk

The third event on this list that is run by volunteers, this ride offers six distance options from 16 to 160km.

The range of rides should mean there’s something for everyone who makes the trip to the far South West.

Circuit of Kent

Kentish-Killer2010 5.jpg

Rural riding not too far from London. Photo: Sportivephoto.com

When: September
Where: Sevenoaks, Kent
More information: kentcyclosportive.co.uk

This sportive offers route of 80 and 130km through the Kent countryside South East of Sevenoaks.

Some testing drags will knock back your average speed, but the rolling route should suit most.

>>> 17 of the best international sportives to ride in 2016

Something a bit different: Multi-day events

Tour of Wessex

Glorious Wessex countryside. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Glorious Wessex countryside. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

When: May 28 -30
Where: South West England
More information: pendragonsports.com/Tour_of_Wessex

The full three day event sees cyclists cover 480km, but there are shorter routes and single day options.

Varying terrain, food and music in the evenings and riders coming from abroad to take part, this is a unique event in the English countryside.

The Dragon Tour

Dragon Ride cyclo sportive 2009[2].jpg

Three days of great riding in the Welsh countryside

When: June 3 – 5
Where: South Wales
More information: humanrace.co.uk/dragon-tour

Building on the success of the Dragon Ride, Human Race Events now offer riders the chance to make a weekend of it.

Entrants ride two tough days on the Friday and Saturday before taking part in one of the four Dragon Ride routes on the Sunday.

Ride Across Britain

John O'Groats

A welcome sight after nine days of riding. Photo: Rob Faulkner / CC 2.0

When: September 10 – 18
Where: Lands End to John O-Groats
More information: rideacrossbritain.com

For those wanting to do the end to end, but unsure where to start with the logistics, this ride takes care of all the planning so riders can concentrate on the riding.

>>> 28 things you’ll only know if you’ve done Lands End to John O’Groats

Pit stops, medical assistance and pre-set campsites are just some of the perks.

  • Duncan Rolley

    Who says these are the best? Against what criteria? Frankly surprised this isn’t simply a list of the Cycling Weekly event series given your blatant disregard for any other events other than your own …..

  • Greg McHugh

    A scenic tour of Donegal following the Wild Atlantic Way with a few climbs thrown in for the craic.

  • llos25

    From what I can see they are just an excuse for a road race without the regulations no wonder motorists get upset in the UK glad I don’t live there.Paying large amounts of money to ride on roads that you can ride on for free somebody is making a lot of money.

  • J1

    There’s a few to add to this, not comprehensive at all but a decent selection.

  • Andy Harper

    Also missed off RiseAbove which is entering its 2nd year. upto 160km with some epic climbing around North Wales

  • Michael

    Yep, Bedford has an 80km closed road sportive in June too.

  • James

    no mention of tour of Cambridgeshire – one of the few to feature closed roads..