Cheshire Cobbled Classic

Cheshire Cobbled Classic Sportive

The Lapierre Cheshire Cobbled Classic

The Lapierre Cheshire Cobbled Classic is an extremely tough 100 mile (160km) sportive featuring twelve cobbled sectors, including five cobbled climbs that exceed 20% in gradient. Sunday 11 June 2017.

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Inspired by the Tour of Flanders

Entries are now open for the 2017 Lapierre Cheshire Cobbled Classic – an extremely tough 100-mile (160 km) sportive which is inspired by the Tour of Flanders – the Belgian one-day Classic. It features twelve cobbled sectors, including five cobbled climbs that exceed 20% in gradient. The most notable of these is the frighteningly steep Corkscrew, a twisting, snaking cobbled road whose 45% maximum gradient makes it the steepest climb in the country (see photos above and below).

NEW FOR 2017: By increasing the distance from 60 miles in 2016 to 100 miles in 2017, we believe that the Cheshire Cobbled Classic will become the toughest event of its kind in the UK. Ranked 2nd only to the Fred Whitton in difficulty by Cycling Weekly in 2015 (despite being only half the distance, with only half the amount of climbing) the additional 40 miles of the 2017 edition, together with the savage cobbled climbs, gravel roads, and the inclusion of Gun Hill and The Roaches, should make the Cheshire Cobbled Classic the most challenging event in the country.

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World Team Pursuit Champion Andy Tennant (above) struggles on the absurdly steep Corkscrew in the 2014 Cheshire Cobbled Classic. His team-mate Owain Doull (Olympic Gold Medallist in Rio) keeled over on the lower slopes.

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There is a four-page Insider’s Guide to the Cheshire Cobbled Classic in this 2015 issue of Cycling Weekly (click on image below).

CCC Insider'sThe eastern half of the Cheshire Cobbled Classic is located within the Peak District National Park, starting in beautiful Lyme Park (National Trust), and takes in the spectacular Goyt Valley and the Fernilee and Errwood reservoirs, before heading south and the west via a further five reservoirs and Macclesfield Forest towards the Roaches and Gun Hill.

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Lyme Hall in Lyme Park (National Trust). The start of the Lapierre Cheshire Cobbled Classic.

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Fernilee Reservoir. Note cobbled sides (unrideable, unfortunately).

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Russell Downing of Team Sky climbs Gun Hill in the 2010 Tour of Britain.

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The Tour of Britain visits The Roaches in 2015.

STAFFORDSHIRE, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 13:  Bradley Wiggins of Sky Pro Cycling is followed by Leigh Howard of Orica - GreenEDGE and Mark Cavendish of Sky Pro Cycling as they climb Gun Hill in Staffordshire during Stage 5 of the Tour of Britain on September 13, 2012 in Staffordshire, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky is followed by  Mark Cavendish (in gold) as they climb Gun Hill in Staffordshire during Stage 5 of the Tour of Britain on September 13, 2012.

The route contains a significant amount of climbing – roughly 3000m in total – and the event builds to a climax with a rapid succession of cobbled climbs, including the iconic Swiss Hill, a 25% cobbled climb in Alderley Edge, which is used by Team Sky to prepare specifically for the Tour of Flanders. The profile of Swiss Hill can be viewed here.

There are also long flat cobbled sectors (something of a rarity in England), one of which, even more unusually, is surfaced with round cobbles rather than the more common square cobblestones or ‘setts’ (see below).

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Rounded cobbles provide a somewhat smoother and faster ride than the more common square setts.

The event will have a Belgian theme, with Belgian waffles, chocolate and a glass of Belgian ‘Leffe’ for every finisher. In addition, everyone who completes the course will be presented with a full-sized commemorative cobblestone, reclaimed from the very same roads that the event passes over! Feed stations, a broom wagon and medical support will be provided. All of the roads that comprise both routes are relatively traffic-free, with minimal use of ‘A’ roads. There will also be an option to do a shorter 100km version of the route, which will cut off the southern loop through The Roaches.

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The course designer explains some of the thinking behind the Cheshire Cobbled Classic: “We’d been out to Belgium to do the Tour of Flanders sportive in 2012, and we wanted to try to recreate that sort of course back home in England, with a mixture of short, steep cobbled climbs and flat cobbled sectors. We already knew about Swiss Hill, and had spotted a few cobbled roads in the vicinity.

We quickly found eight or ten other cobbled sectors, and when we discovered to 45% max. ‘Corkscrew’, we knew that we had a really interesting and challenging route on our hands. One great advantage of sportives over races is that you are not as restricted in your choice of roads as you would be in designing a road race course. So you can put together really exciting and novel routes that take in a wide variety of surfaces and terrain that would be logistically very difficult to include in a standard British road race. Ironically, professional road racers now come and ride our events – including Olympic athletes and World Champions.

Cheshire Cobbled Classic - The Corkscrew

The lower slopes of the Corkscrew. 45% max. The steepest climb in the country. Fairly difficult.

We also wanted to show that the roads in this part of England are as exciting – and demanding – as any in Europe, and to give people the chance to experience what it is like to ride in some of the famous one-day Classics. Riding fast over cobbles is a sensation that every cyclist should experience at some point; the heightened sensation of speed that the rough, juddering surface produces makes for a thrilling, adrenaline-filled ride”.

The Lapierre Cheshire Cobbled Classic will be held on Sunday 11 June 2017, starting and finishing at Lyme Park, Disley, Stockport, Cheshire SK12 2NR. Riders can start between 0745 and 0845. Entries are priced at £30. You can sign up using British Cycling’s online entry system – click on the red ‘ENTER’ button at the bottom of this page. The event is promoted by Cycle Classics, who organize the Lapierre Tour of the Black Country, a Paris-Roubaix-inspired sportive featuring 19 unpaved/cobbled sectors and a velodrome finish, and the Strade-Bianche-themed The Lapierre White Roads Classic which features 17 white gravel/chalk sectors.

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Olympic Champion Geraint Thomas of Team Sky trains on Swiss Hill in preparation for the 2011 Tour of Flanders.

Discussion of the Lapierre Cheshire Cobbled Classic in Cyclist Magazine (May 2016 issue) below.

Cyclist Cobbles

‘In praise of … Cobbles’. Cyclist Magazine (May 2016).

'A rare treat on English roads'.

- Cycling Weekly

'Who knew the Peaks could be so Flandrian?'.

- Louise M.

'Why go to Flanders when you can bring Flanders to you?'.

- Cycling Plus, June 2015

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THE LAPIERRE CYCLE CLASSICS SERIES

Cheshire Cobbled Classic – White Roads Classic- Tour of the Black Country

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Cycling Weekly Review:
Cheshire Cobbled Classic


Cycling Weekly Insider’s Guide: Cheshire Cobbled Classic

Photos: henryiddon.com