Lionheart riders treated to bright sunshine and stunning riding
18th April 2016
A record number of riders participated in the Lionheart Sportive on Sunday 17 April, hosted at Longleat Safari Park. 1,600 people arrived early at the popular tourist attraction ready to take on a 100km or 100 mile ride that takes in some of the most spectacular scenery in Wiltshire and the surrounding areas. The annual event organised by Human Race is one of the most popular early season sportives in the UK, with a reputation for being the friendliest.
Conditions for cyclists were chilly but bright to begin with, which was welcome after days of heavy rain leading up to the event. Things soon warmed up for riders as they had to ride just feet away from the animal enclosures before taking on a number of challenging but enjoyable climbs.
The most high profile of the climbs was at King Alfred’s Tower where the roads were closed to allow riders to take on a timed challenge. Polka dot flags signalled the start of the 1.4km section with the traffic-free roads allowing riders to spread out and safely take their preferred approach to each corner. With a maximum gradient of 32% this climb certainly packed a punch, but some incredible times were clocked. The King and Queen of the Mountains are still being identified, but will be announced later this week.
Several special feed stations were situated around the course to offer riders respite from their challenging ride. Each of these included nutrition products from the experts at Science in Sport, along with savoury food and other treats. The most memorable of these was undoubtedly hosted by Yapp Brothers, a local wine merchants with a prestigious reputation in the industry. They welcomed Lionheart riders into their French themed courtyard and offered wine tasting along with blocks of cheddar, surely making this the best feed station in UK sportives?
The event was being filmed for a television programme on BIKE, the new cycling specific channel that is available to all SKY and Virgin Media customers. Participants will be able to look out for themselves on the 30 minute show, after cameras placed around the course watched them tackle the testing but beautiful Lionheart route. Highlights of the Lionheart sportive will be shown on Thursday 21st April at 8.30PM.
At the finish line exhausted riders were greeted to cheers from the awaiting crowds who were basking in the now bright and warm sunshine on the beautiful estate. Each finisher received a Lionheart completion medal, hot food and a pint of ERDINGER Alkoholfrei. Many enjoyed the fine weather and cold beer in the event village before making the journey home to rest.
Kirsty Wilde from Human Race Events said “We’ve had an incredible day hosting the Lionheart, and want to say a massive congratulations to everybody who completed one of the testing routes. It’s safe to say that Lionheart’s reputation as the UK’s friendliest sportive is safe for another year, and we are already excited about returning in 2017.”
Next up in the Human Race Sportive Series presented by BIKE is the Maserati Tour de Yorkshire Ride on Sunday 1 May. This year the event will be hosted in Scarborough, where professionals including Bradley Wiggins, Luke Rowe and Dani King will be riding the same day.