The roads around one of the most famous lochs in the world will be taken over by more than 3,300 cyclists who have snapped every last place for Etape Loch Ness 2015.
The sell-out closed road event will see riders of all abilities set off in the early hours of this Sunday, (April 26) on a 66-mile course which circles the iconic loch.
Building on the success of last year’s inaugural event, Etape Loch Ness has attracted an increased number of participants.
They will be cycling on traffic-free roads, amidst some of the most spectacular Scottish landscapes, and facing a number of challenges along the way, including the King of the Mountain - a 4.8 mile climb which rises to 380m in height with a 12% gradient.
The influx of cyclists from all over Scotland and further afield will bring an off-season tourism boost for local accommodation providers, eateries and shops, with many cyclists bringing their family and friends along to enjoy a short break in the Highlands.
A large number of the participants will be cycling on behalf of the sportive’s official charity, Macmillan Cancer Support, and it’s hoped that £120,000 will be raised to make a real difference to people living with cancer and their families.
The event provides a fantastic spectacle for residents and visitors along the course, and on the final two miles through Inverness city centre alongside the River Ness at the Event Hub at Eden Court Theatre.
Organiser Malcolm Sutherland encourages the public to get behind the cyclists and give them some welcome encouragement as they make their way round the route.
Malcolm says: “After months of planning, we’re now on the final stretch, and all set for Etape Loch Ness this Sunday.
“We’ve had tremendous support from local businesses and communities and we hope we can repay them with a great event that really helps put the Highlands on the map.
“Everything points towards Etape Loch Ness 2015 being another great success story for the area.”
The first wave of riders are due to set off on Sunday morning at 6.20am from Bught Park in the Highland capital. The fastest riders home are expected to cross the finishing line from 9am onwards, with the bulk of riders crossing the finishing line between 9am and 1pm.
Efforts have been made to keep road closures to a minimum to minimise their impact on local communities and people travelling on Sunday morning. The list of closures is as follows:
A82 Inverness to Drumnadrochit (A831 junction) 5.40-8.05am
A82 Drumnadrochit (A831 junction) to Urquhart Castle 6.40-8.15am
A82 Urquhart Castle to Invermoriston 6.20-9.05am
A82 Invermoriston to Fort Augustus (B862 junction) 7.05-9.35am
B862 Fort Augustus to B862/B852 Junction 7.15-10.55am
B862/B852 Junction to Lower Foyers Junction 7.45-11.05am
B852 Lower Foyers Junction to Dores 7.50-11.55am
B862 Dores to Holm Roundabout 7.45am-12.25pm (left lane closure only)
Holm Roundabout to Eden Court, Inverness 8.45am-12.40pm (left lane closure only)
Ian Lulham from Macmillan Cancer Support says Etape Loch Ness will be a huge fundraiser for the charity. He adds, “We are really looking forward to this weekend, and seeing the distinctive green jerseys of 750 Team Macmillan riders in action.
“We are immensely grateful to Etape Loch Ness for choosing Macmillan as the event’s charity partner, and are very proud of the efforts of all our cyclists in raising vital funds that will make a real difference to people living with cancer and their families.”
Etape Loch Ness is supported by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland, and Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events at VisitScotland, says: “We are delighted to be supporting Etape Loch Ness, as part of our ongoing commitment to cycling. Scotland is the perfect stage for events, and visitors and residents alike can expect an exciting, action-packed sportive this weekend, set against the backdrop of breath-taking Scottish landscapes.”
Those who live, or are visiting the following villages, are urged to get out and give the riders a cheer as they go past. Riders are expected at the following times:
Drumnadrochit – riders expected through the village between 6.55 -8:05am
Invermoriston – riders expected between 7.25 – 9am
Fort Augustus – riders expected between 7.40 – 9.25am
Foyers / Inverfarigaig – riders expected between 8.15 – 11am
Dores– riders expected between 8.40 – 11.45am
All spectators are encouraged to come along to the Event Hub at Eden Court to welcome riders home, with riders expected between 9am and 1pm.