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Saddleback Fred Whitton Challenge ballot entries hit all-time high

Eight cycling stats that signal a growing appetite for tougher cycling events in the UK for Gran Fondo and Sportive cyclists

The ballot results have been announced for the 19th annual Saddleback Fred Whitton Challenge. Taking place on 13 May, this bucket-list event, ranked alongside La Marmotte for difficulty, has seen record numbers of entries to the ballot with 20% more applications than last year.

This unprecedented growth hints at an underlying trend that is hitting the mass-participation market, with riders seeking out tougher and tougher cycling events in the UK and overseas.

Human Race, organisers of The Saddleback Fred Whitton Challenge and a number of other iconic UK sportive events have seen this trend developing over recent years.

Saddleback Fred Whitton Challenge ballot entries hit all-time high

Here Human Race have identified eight key stats that signal increased demand for punishing riding:

  20% : the growth for the Fred Whitton in its 19th year of existence. The ballot for this highly coveted event has hit an all-time high.

  8.1 billion : the number of vertical meters climbed on a bike in 2017 recorded on Strava, 20% up since on last year.

  24.2% : the proportion of riders at L’Etape du Tour 2018 who come from the UK to ride a section of Le Tour de France, we’re the 2nd most represented nation after France.

  344,323,824 : is the number of kudos that was given on Strava in the UK in 2017 which amounts to 15% of the global kudos total. You impressive bunch!

  171,400 : the number of century rides recorded on Strava over the past year, an 18.2% increase over the past 12 months.

  78 Days, 14 hours, 14 minutes : the time it took Mark Beaumont to circumnavigate the world by bicycle covering a gruelling 29,030km.

  13% : the increase in riders at the Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales  taking on the 305km Dragon Devil – the longest one day sportive in the UK.

  92% : the percentage of  people, according to Strava, who set themselves a challenge are still regularly active 10 months later. Clearly the challenge is working!

Simon Warren, author of 100 Greatest Climbs Series, says; “Sportives are a great opportunity to get a group of mates together and push your boundaries in some of the most beautiful parts of the UK, and no event does that more than the Fred Whitton. Arguably the toughest one-day ride in Britain - though without doubt some of its most spectacular scenery - it is no wonder the event is referred to as ‘The Daddy of them all’.”

Nick Rusling, CEO of Human Race, says; “Since becoming part of A.S.O two years ago, we have had a chance to explore this trend towards extreme endurance events within the UK and across Europe. Not only are riders looking for tougher challenges in the UK, but they’re willing to travel across Europe to tackle brutal rides too. We love seeing the satisfaction on riders faces as they cross the line having overcome an incredible personal challenge.”

Whilst places are no longer available for The Saddleback Fred Whitton Challenge 2018, Human Race have a portfolio of cycling events including the Maserati Tour de Yorkshire Ride (6 May), Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales (10 June) and Chiltern 100 Cycling Festival. (15 July).

Visit the following websites for more information about each of the events:


*All information was taken from the Human Race and A.S.O participant databases, and the Strava Year in Sport Report for 2017.