Participants of all abilities and backgrounds inspired and delighted by biggest-ever RideLondon festival of cycling
RideLondon, the world’s greatest festival of cycling, came to a suitably spectacular conclusion today [Sunday 29 May] with a nail-biting professional race on the streets of London.
And if that wasn’t exciting enough, an electric atmosphere was generated by the pedal power of more than 20,000 riders taking on 100, 60 or 30-mile challenge rides, while tens of thousands more were inspired to get on their bikes and spend the day at RideLondon FreeCycle – the free family-friendly event that gives everyone the opportunity to explore London by bike on traffic-free roads.
The last time RideLondon took place, back in 2019, it was a two-day festival that included the RideLondon Classique: a UCI Women’s WorldTour road race on a central London circuit. This year the event was back, bigger and better than ever before – taking place over three days on new routes through the rolling Essex countryside as well as the capital – and featuring the best women riders in the world.
Cream of the crop was reigning RideLondon Classique champion Lorena Wiebes, who relished the chance to defend her crown in emphatic fashion.
Not only did the Team DSM rider cross the Finish Line on Victoria Embankment in first place on Sunday’s third and final stage – securing overall victory and the Sprint Jersey in the process – she also won the two preceding stages.
A clean sweep for the Dutch dynamo, who was full of praise for her team-mates after the race: “I’m so happy to deliver this for the team after they did so much for me this week. We were fully focused on the final sprint, and it paid off.”
Wiebes finished ahead of Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) in second place and Lotte Kopecky (Team SD Worx) in third.
Over the first seven editions of the event, in excess of £80 million was raised for more than 1,000 charities and this total is set to grow this year, as many of the 20,000-plus riders in the mass participation events were fundraising for causes close to their hearts.
They included former champion jockey Sir AP McCoy OBE, who took on the RideLondon-Essex 100 in support of the charity SpecialEffect. “If you can do the event for a good cause, you probably should,” he said. “I wouldn’t like to be doing 100 miles too often though…”
Amateur cyclist Pat Campbell from Clapham was also riding the RideLondon-Essex 100 for charity – Antony Nolan was the cause he chose to support. He summed up the feelgood factor in the air today: “There was a feeling that great events like this are returning. It’s a privilege to ride along closed roads – it doesn’t happen very often so events like RideLondon are a real treat.”
Event Director Hugh Brasher was able to sample this special Ride Day feeling for himself, as he rode the RideLondon-Essex 60: “It was an amazing atmosphere out there – very inclusive, with far more women riders and far more diverse riders.
“It was beautiful countryside out in Essex, on a new route that’s flatter and easier and the whole thing was really inspiring.
“We have a terrible health and obesity crisis in this country right now. We need to get people onto bicycles. It’s also brilliant for your mental health. I now cycle into London when I commute to work and I feel so much better for it. It lifts your mood, so we want to encourage people to give cycling a try.”
Will Norman, London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, agreed, saying: “Today has been fantastic, after more than 1,000 days away, RideLondon has made a triumphant return.
“It’s been amazing to join so many cyclists of all ages and experience levels riding together through the capital’s iconic streets. The atmosphere was electric.
“Many people took up cycling for the first time or returned to it during the pandemic, and we are determined to keep Londoners cycling – days like today play a huge part in that.”