Ford RideLondon ends on a spectacular high
Ford RideLondon, the world’s greatest festival of cycling, culminated today in fun and festivities for thousands of amateur riders, who pedalled along car-free roads across central London and Essex, while crowds lined The Mall to catch the world’s fastest women in the nail-biting final stage of the pro race.
The spectacular finale saw four events, designed for cyclists of all abilities and backgrounds, flood the roads of London and Essex, as more than 22,500 riders took on the Ford RideLondon-Essex 100, 60 or 30-mile challenges, while around 50,000 more enjoyed the free, family-friendly FreeCycle event, jumping on their bikes to explore eight miles of closed roads and visiting the festival sites.
The third stage of the Ford RideLondon Classique, the only UCI Women’s WorldTour race to take place in UK this year, drew to a glorious close on The Mall with Charlotte Kool (Team DSM, NED) crowned the 2023 winner – after three days of world-class cycling through Essex’s stunning roads and central London’s famous landmarks.
It was a closely fought final sprint today (28 May) with Team Canyon//SRAM Racing’s Chloe Dygert claiming second place overall and Trek-Segafredo’s Lizzie Deignan stepping onto the third spot on the podium.
Speaking after the event, Kool said: “I’m really happy, this one is for the team, how we did it again, how strong the girls did was really impressive, so this one is for the team.”
Deignan, who made an impressive return to the UK roads at the event, said: “I was pretty nervous the whole day long, it was very hectic, very stressful, I stayed up right in it, so that’s a win for me today.”
Surprised that she had done so well, she said: “My son’s only eight-months-old, it’s been a whirlwind. It was phenomenal, I had goosebumps, the crowds were incredible. The speed was intense today, but so was the noise of the crowd and you could really feel there was a great atmosphere.”
The victory capped a special 10th anniversary for the Olympic legacy event, which has made huge strides in encouraging more people to get on their bikes, as well as raising millions for charity.
Over the last 10 years, more than £83 million has been raised for 1,000+ charities and this total is set to grow this year, as many of the riders in the mass participation events were fundraising for causes close to their hearts, including the two Charities of the Year Alzheimer’s Society and The Eve Appeal.
Ford RideLondon Event Director, Hugh Brasher, said: “Here we are at Ford RideLondon, it’s the 10th anniversary of the first event, and it really is a special day – the sun is out, and we’ve had around 23,000 riders heading out to the beautiful Essex countryside.
He said: “I started at the back of the Ford RideLondon-Essex 30 event and the diversity, the ages, the different demographics, the people who you wouldn’t normally associate with a bicycle, and the fact that they were getting involved and cycling out to Essex and back, was really brilliant.
“The event has definitely changed since 2013 – we are encouraging people of different ethnicities and socio-economic background and ages to get on a bicycle. We know that in the last 10 years we’ve inspired more than 150,000 people to get on a bike, either who’d never been on one before, or people who dusted one down, so we’re really inspiring activity.
“The event has also raised something in the region of £83 million for charity in those 10 years, so there are many different elements to the events, and then you have the inspiring elite side with the Ford RideLondon Classique. We’ve just had two amazing days of racing in Essex, so the whole event really is about combining the different sides of cycling.
“There are para cyclists taking part, people on tricycles. It can feel daunting [to get on a bike] but in this traffic-free environment pollution levels go down 90 per cent, so the more people we can inspire to get on two wheels, whether to cycle one mile or 10 miles, the better.
“I know not every journey is possible on a bicycle, but the more we can inspire people to cycle, the better it is for London, and for us breathing in cleaner air.”
Will Norman, London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, said: “RideLondon is the greatest festival of cycling in the world and today has seen thousands of people of all ages and abilities take to the streets of the capital on their bikes, enjoying the clear roads and iconic landmarks. London has seen a huge boom in people cycling and we want to encourage everyone to give it a go – and events like RideLondon play a huge part.”